Missouri's Jeremy Maclin was a national icon for two years in college football. His lightning speed and breathtaking cuts in traffic were legendary, thrusting him into the conversation as one of the best playmakers in the land, and eventually the first round of the 2009 NFL draft.
He's got Danario Alexander to thank for all of that.
In the fall of 2007, after Maclin was recovering from a knee injury, Alexander was the most impressive wide receiver in that fall camp, beating out Maclin for the starting receiving job opposite Will Franklin, another future NFL player. But Alexander broke his wrist in the season opener against Illinois, and wasn't the same until this season, after tears to his ACL finally healed.
But boy, has he ever looked great at 100 percent.
Alexander is quietly having a better season than Maclin ever had one year after Maclin went to the Eagles at pick No. 19. He definitely deserves All-America consideration, and NFL scouts should be watching.
Alexander ranks fifth in the nation in receiving yards with 1,038 (222 behind Maclin's single-season record), sixth in yards per game, and is tied for ninth in receiving touchdowns.
In addition, he's doing it without much help. The next best two receivers on Missouri have just 1,000 receiving combined.
At 6-foot-5, Alexander is deceptively fast. His long strides make him look like a gazelle on the field, galloping past defenders and breaking arm tackles with relative ease. One of his most impressive plays came last Saturday when he reached high for a ball up the middle, landed and absorbed a big hit, and bounced off the defender to take the ball over 80 yards to the house for a score.
He's got the speed, the courage to make catches in traffic, and the athletic ability to outjump and muscle most cornerbacks when the ball is up for grabs. Missouri fans will be sad (and probably frightened) to see Super Danario leave for the greener pastures of the NFL (and graduation) this fall, but they won't have to fret long. He'll almost certainly be a quality wide receiver in the NFL for years to come, probably in the mold of the athletic Justin Gage.
In a season where the Tigers have made fans miss the results of the last couple of years, Alexander has helped them forget their most explosive superstar ever.