Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri Seeks Next Star at TE; Waters - Junior Hopes to Follow in Footsteps of Egnew, Coffman and Rucker at Mizzou

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri Seeks Next Star at TE; Waters - Junior Hopes to Follow in Footsteps of Egnew, Coffman and Rucker at Mizzou

Article excerpt

COLUMBIA, MO. - Although it isn't something they can quantify, Missouri football coaches seem to be in agreement with their assessment of tight end Eric Waters.

The transformation that comes with experience has accelerated, at least when it comes to practice and preparation.

With Michael Egnew gone to the NFL after making 140 catches in two seasons, it's time for another tight end to assume the role that has become one of the most prominent in the Mizzou offense in the past seven years.

Waters is "much more mature than the first couple of years," coach Gary Pinkel said. "The maturity level to compete at our level and the focus necessary - he's better. He's a different guy right now than he was two years ago."

Receivers coach Andy Hill went one better.

"He's into the offense; he's a different guy than he was last year," he said.

Waters also is a different player than he was in the spring when he needed knee surgery to repair a torn medial collateral ligament. He has become the frontrunner to succeed Egnew, who followed Chase Coffman and Martin Rucker in posting huge numbers.

With the exception of 2009, Missouri's tight end has been significant in the passing game since 2005. Egnew had 90 catches as a junior and Coffman posted 90 in 2008. Coffman and Rucker combined for 111 receptions in 2006 and 94 the previous year.

"I don't look at it as I'm worried about becoming the next great one," Waters said. "The only thing I'm worried about is becoming a great player. When I talk to coach Hill, he says, 'I will make sure you become a great player.' I trust that so I follow everything he tells me to do and everything he asks of me."

Waters didn't have many opportunities the past two years behind Egnew.

Waters, who is 6 feet 4 and 240 pounds, played a handful of snaps each game and finished with two catches as a sophomore. When he took the field, it usually was on special teams.

According to Pinkel, Egnew had a similar trajectory as a "decent, pretty good player" for two years before emerging as an All- American. …

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