For all intents and purposes, Mizzou's 2009 season was a highly forgettable campaign of transition and recovery. Gone were almost all of 2007's and 2008's stars ... the quarterback got hurt just in time for a three-game losing streak ... two new coordinators were figuring things out ... et cetera. That Mizzou managed to win eight games and keep a solid trajectory was, honestly, successful in and of itself. But between an offense that bogged down, a defense that got destroyed against Baylor and Navy, and the fact that a five-loss season now feels outrageous, we'll forget most of 2009.
But we won't forget Danario Alexander. We throw the term "video game stats" around a lot. It is almost a go-to cliche to describe huge games or gaudy stats now. But ... how else do you describe what Danario produced in 2009? He produced at least one play of 50 yards or more in eight of the last ten games. Excluding the Furman game, when he barely played (but still caught two touchdowns), he was never held under six catches and only once held under 50 receiving yards (in the Nebraska monsoon). After seven games, he had 50 catches for 701 yards and five touchdowns ... and then he raised his game.
Over his final six games in a Missouri uniform, the man my wife once called Danarino caught 63 passes for 1,080 yards and nine touchdowns. Those totals would lead a good portion of college football teams over the course of an entire season, and he did it in less than half of one. Over the final four games of the regular season, he never had fewer than 10 catches or 173 yards.
And it wasn't even about the numbers. With a team yearning for consistency and leadership, he did everything a receiver can do to provide both. Need him to drag three tacklers for a first down on third-and-7? Done. Need him to take a short pass, make one move and go 70 yards? Done. Need him to go over the top and catch a bomb? Done and done. He fought an incredible number of injuries and showed massive potential for three seasons, and when it came together, it produced the single greatest season a receiver has ever recorded for a university that has not been short on receivers. Incredible, magnificent, unbelievable, Biletnikoff-worthy (no, I haven't let that go) ... pick your adjective. He was that. And watching him overcome adversity the way he did made this one of the most emotionally gratifying stories of my time as a Mizzou fan.
Sonny Riccio | Big Mo | The Legend of the Half-Peace Sign | Corby Jones' Backward Leap | Jeremy. Maclin. | The Telephone Trophy | The Rock M | Mr. Mizzou | The Nunchuk Thrust | 291 Yards | Mizzou 46, USC 25 | The Sarah Becking Archive | Danny LaRose