September 15, 2007

Maclin does it all for Mizzou

Wide receiver, punt returner, kick returner, running back, quarterback. It has taken all of three games for Jeremy Maclin to line up at every one of them for the Missouri Tigers.

"I'm a receiver," Maclin said. "Receiver at heart."

Maybe so, but the kid's doing all right everywhere else too. Maclin came into Saturday's game leading the Big 12 with 204 all-purpose yards per game. Against Western Michigan, he caught seven passes for 96 yards (and a touchdown). He added 31 yards on punt returns, including a weaving 23-yarder that he was oh-so-close to breaking. He had 96 yards on five kickoff returns. And he ran for 52 yards in six carries, including a 19-yarder on which he lined up at quarterback.

The numbers are impressive enough. The fact that they come from a freshman make them more so. The fact that they come from a freshman coming off major surgery after tearing his ACL just less than 14 months ago, well, that's beyond a mild surprise.

"I don't think you can ever predict something," Gary Pinkel said. "I could lie and say that I did."

You can't predict them, but Pinkel admits he knew he had a good one on his hands even before last season.

"I just kept hearing from the quarterbacks and different players throughout the summer before he hurt his knee," Pinkel said. "I'd be in my office and they'd come up and tell me, 'This J-Mac, he's something else. He's pretty special.'"

The least surprised person of them all might be Maclin himself.

"I've been doing that for a while now and it's kind of something I expect," Maclin said of his versatility. "I put that much effort into rehabbing my knee that I expected to come out and do the things I'm doing right now."

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