For the first time in recent memory, the Missouri Tigers go into spring football with the possibility of having a good amount of depth at the wide receiver position. As we continue to examine the situation at every position across the roster, we look at the first of the three receiver spots.
The Starter: William Franklin will start the spring as the likely go-to guy in the Tiger receiving corps. Franklin had great moments last season, but was unable to put it together on a game-to-game basis. However, the new quarterback could benefit Franklin more than any other player on the roster. Fans saw what he could do when he caught the ball on the run in the Independence Bowl when Franklin averaged nearly 20 yards a catch and got a good amount of it after the reception. Franklin has a near stranglehold on this spot.
The Backup: For the spring, former walk-on Tommy Saunders seems to have the upper hand here. He backed up Franklin and made a handful of important catches a season ago. Saunders is never going to be a game-breaker, but he can be similar to J.D. McCoy a few years ago—the guy the Tiger quarterback looks for when he has to have a catch. Saunders isn't a star, but he is a solid player that every team has to have.
The Spring Prediction: There simply isn't a whole lot of suspense here. Franklin is going to start. However, he will be one of the most interesting players to watch. He has 1,000-yard type potential and athleticism, but Brad Smith simply didn't get him the ball in a position where he could do damage on a consistent basis. With a quarterback who is more of a thrower, it will be interesting to see how Franklin looks this spring. With two crazy-good tight ends to create single coverage, the junior from Vashon could be a monster.
Things could change if… Tremane Vaughns comes in and delivers on the potential he showed in junior college. A do-everything player at Pasadena City, the Tiger coaches signed Vaughns with visions of him playing this very position. It's tough to imagine him beating Franklin out, but he could be good enough to get on the field quite a bit. Vaughns didn't get to dedicate himself completely to receiver in juco. If he can catch up quickly in August, he could be a big contributor.
Over the next three weeks, PowerMizzou.com will take an in-depth look at the two-deep at every single position entering spring ball.