The Wall of Excellence, Class of 2011: Vote No. 2

With the second Rafters class in the books, we move to the third class of our football hall of fame of sorts, The Wall.

  • Tier I: Faurot era (mid-1930s to mid-1950s)
  • Tier II: Devine era (late-1950s to early-1970s)
  • Tier III: Pinkel era (2000s)
  • Tier IV: Pre-Faurot, 1970s
  • Tier V: 1980s-1990s
  • Tier VI: Administrators/Coaches/Personalities

One inductee will be selected from each tier.  Voting will take place exactly as it did for The Rafters -- you will be given a list of nominees, and in the form below, you will rank your top three selections.  Your #1 selection will receive five points, your #2 selection three points, and your #3 selection one point.  Whoever gets the most points gets on the wall.

Yesterday, we celebrated players who contributed to Don Faurot's great tenure as Missouri head coach.  Today, we focus on a shorter, and more successful, era: that of Dan Devine. All seven players in this vote are in Mizzou's Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.

Once again, all photos below are from the MU Archives' incredibly valuable Savitar archive.

Ed Blaine

Blaine: No. 66 in bottom right. It was difficult to find a good picture of him, as he had usually driven his man out of the picture too quickly...

My quest for getting a lineman on The Wall continues. Blaine was the best offensive lineman for one of Mizzou's best rushing offenses. Blaine was an All-American, a pro, and a great Mizzou representative.

Hall of Fame Bio: One of the greatest offensive lineman in Missouri history, Blaine lettered as a Tiger in 1959-60-61. He received all-Big Eight and all-America honors in 1961, and was an honorable mention selection on the Missouri All-Century Team. A native of Farmington, Mo., Blaine played in the East-West Shrine Game, the Senior Bowl and the College All-Star Game, after his senior season, on the way to a career in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers (1962-63) and Philadelphia Eagles (1963-66). Now one of the nation's foremost pharmaceutical researchers, Blaine was the speaker in May 1991 at Mizzou's commencement exercises. He lives in St. Louis.

Mel Gray

An absolute burner, Gray was the perfect complement to the big, physical Mizzou style.  The Tigers could rough you up on the inside, then Gray could burn you over the top.

Hall of Fame Bio: Came to Missouri from Santa Rosa, Calif., as MU's first "speed merchant," lettering in football and track from 1968-70. Was all-Big Eight in 1969, when he caught 25 passes for 705 yards and a school-record nine TDs. Held the school record for career receiving yardage - 1,491 -for 20 years, and still holds the MU career record for receiving TDs (14). He was chosen to MU's all-century team in 1990. Gray was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, and was an all-pro receiver during a career that lasted from 1971-82. In track, Gray was an all-American once indoors and twice outdoors. Was a Grand Slam winner in the 100-meter dash in '70, taking titles at the Texas, Kansas, and Drake Relays. He was a five time Big Eight Conference sprint champion, winning the indoor 60-yard dash (1970), and the 100 and 220-yard dashes outdoors in 1969 and '70. He is the co-holder of the MU records in all three races, with respective times of 6.0 seconds, 9.3 seconds and 20.4 seconds.

Gary Lane

So you've accounted for Johnny Roland. Congratulations. Now prepare for the best run-pass quarterback in the conference. Mizzou's offense was devastating in the mid-1960s, and Lane was perhaps the primary reason why.

Hall of Fame Bio: Now an accomplished referee in the National Football League, Gary Lane is one of eight Tigers who won first-team all-conference honors three times (1963-65). A quarterback for Dan Devine, he led Missouri to a cumulative record of 21-8-2 and paced the Big Eight in total offense as a sophomore and junior. He led the Tigers to a dramatic 20-18 victory over Florida in the 1966 Sugar Bowl, where his running and leadership countered a big passing day by the Gator's Steve Spurrier. From East Alton, Ill., Lane played in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants, and in Canada, from 1966-70.

Danny LaRose

Perhaps the most under-appreciated Mizzou players of all-time, LaRose was the best player on perhaps Mizzou's best team, the 10-1 1960 squad.  People know that team was great, but not everybody knows just how dominant LaRose was at that time.

Hall of Fame Bio: One of the greatest two-way talents in Missouri history, LaRose starred from 1958-60, as an end who could dominate the line of scrimmage, and was also MU's leading receiver as a sophomore and senior. He also punted for MU in 1960. A native of Crystal City, Mo., LaRose won all-conference honors in 1958 and '60, and was a consensus all-America selection in 1960 (made 13 teams), when Missouri beat Navy and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Bellino in the Orange Bowl. LaRose played in the College All-Star Game and Hula Bowl in 1961, then went on to a professional career with the Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins. He was also an accomplished weight man in track, who held Missouri's indoor shot put record for many years.

Francis Peay

If LaRose is under-appreciated, Peay is straight-up unappreciated.  Call it the lineman's curse (case in point: number-retiree and "best Mizzou lineman ever" candidate Darold Jenkins sits a distant second in the Tier I vote behind Harry Ice, a flashy runner with a flashy name).  Along with players like LaRose and Justin Smith, Peay is one of Mizzou's best defensive linemen ever.

Hall of Fame Bio: Has completed six years as the head football coach at Northwestern University, after standout seasons as a tackle at Missouri and in the NFL. A Pittsburgh, Pa., native, Peay lettered in 1964-65, and won all-Big Eight and all-America plaudits as a senior when Missouri ranked third in the nation in rushing offense and won the Sugar Bowl over Florida, and Heisman Trophy QB Steve Spurrier. He was the Big Eight's "lineman of the week" following MU's 17-6 win over Minnesota that season, and later was a first-round choice of the New York Giants in the 1966 NFL Draft, and later played with the Green Bay Packers (1968-72) and Kansas City Chiefs (1973-75). He was named to MU's all-Century Football Team.

Johnny Roland

Roland did whatever his team needed -- in an era where players no longer played both ways, he had to balance being Mizzou's best running back and defensive back. He did whatever the team needed, whenever the team needed it, and his number is retired because of it.

Hall of Fame Bio: A halfback from Corpus Christi, Texas, Roland lettered at MU in 1962-64-65, and was an all-Big Eight choice all three years. An outstanding two-way player, Roland was team captain and all-American in 1965. Following that season, he played in the Senior Bowl, Coaches All-American Game and College All Star Game. At MU, he led the Tigers in rushing and scoring in 1962, in punt returns in 1964-65, in kickoff returns in 1962 and '64, and in pass interceptions in 1965. Roland ranks 10th at MU in career scoring, and led the Big Eight in scoring in 1962. He played with the St. Louis Cardinals of the NFL from 1966-72, earning the league's nod as "Rookie of the Year" in `66 and with the New York Giants in 1973.

Mel West

One of Mizzou's first two black players, along with Norris Stevenson, West is another rather under-appreciated Mizzou star.  If LaRose was not the standout player on those 1958-60 teams, West was, leading Mizzou in rushing and repeatedly setting them up with fantastic field position.

Hall of Fame Bio: A native of Jefferson City, West ranks as MU's sixth-leading career rusher with 1,848 yards. He was all-Big Eight in 1960, when the Tigers achieved the only number-one ranking in school history. One of only two MU running backs (James Wilder is the other) to lead the team in rushing three straight seasons, and is the only Tiger running back ever to lead MU in total offense three times. Was MU's top kickoff return man in 1959 and '60, averaging more than 33 yards per return. Played in two bowl games for Dan Devine and was MU's leading rusher in each. Played professionally with the Boston Patriots and New York Titans of the American Football League.

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