While this is really an ode to all of the former Mizzou players who thrived playing both ways ... LaRose was perhaps Mizzou's best in that category.
We remember so many players from that 1960 season -- backs Mel West, Norm Beal, Donnie Smith and Norris Stevenson, quarterback Ron Taylor, etc. -- but we tend to almost forget about the best player on the team. Danny LaRose did most of his damage from the defensive end position, but he still managed to finish eighth in the 1960 Heisman voting and garner 16 first-place votes. Missouri won most games with a stout running game and devastating team defense. But when they needed something extra, LaRose provided it through his work as not only a defensive end, but also a split end and punter.
When Mizzou headed to Pennsylvania to take on No. 20 Penn State on October 1, LaRose staked his Heisman claim. He caught a touchdown pass to help Mizzou ease out to a 14-0 lead, then he tipped a Galen Hall pass that a teammate intercepted. He picked off a pass for himself in the fourth quarter to boot. Then, after Mizzou had moved to No. 2 in the country in November, he sacked Colorado quarterback Garle Weidner to ice a 16-6 win.
In 1960, playing both ways did not garner you any sort of "ironman" recognition -- everybody played both ways. But few played this well on both sides of the ball, and few made as large a mark as LaRose did, helping Mizzou to back-to-back Orange Bowl appearances, lighting the fuse for a flammable defense, and kick-starting the best decade of football in Missouri's history. If that doesn't earn some love, nothing does.
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. Lives in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
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