The summer is in its home stretch, and with football on the brain again, let's induct some Mizzou greats onto the 2012 Wall Of Excellence class!
We're going to do things differently this time around. Instead of focusing on eras, we're going to look at position groupings. Thus far we've inducted six quarterbacks, three running backs, four receivers/tight ends, and only three players from other positions. Let's spread the love a bit.
We are selecting inductees from the following five groupings:
- Group 1: The Offensive Backfield (quarterbacks, running backs)
- Group 2: The Forward Pass (receivers, tight ends, defensive backs)
- Group 3: The Offensive Line
- Group 4: Defensive Line And Linebackers
- Group 5: Administrators
We're doing something a bit different this time around. After the jump, we're going to attempt two votes at once. Why? Because there were about five players on the list who were both offensive linemen (Group 3) and defensive linemen (Group 4). So we're going to pick two names from a crowded field, and we'll have you rank your top four below (instead of three).
Ed 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.
Read the first sentence of the hall of fame bio very carefully: FOUR-SPORT LETTERWINNER. And we thought Phil Bradley was impressive for being good at two...
Hall of Fame Bio: A native of Nevada, Mo., Bunker is one of only two four-sport letterwinnners in Missouri athletic history. He lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track and field, between 1920-23. In basketball, Bunker earned all-Missouri Valley Conference honors as a guard in 1921 and `922 and was an all-American in 1921 and 1923. A tackle/center in football, he captained the Tigers in 1922. He was a catcher/outfielder in baseball and threw the shot put on the track team. A Phi Beta Kappa student who earned a Ph.D. in sociology, Bunker headed Mizzou's department of physical education for many years before retiring in 1965. He spent nine years as football coach and athletic director at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., and also coached at Missouri, Auburn and Florida, and at Paseo High School in Kansas City, Mo.
Like Justin Smith a bit over a decade later, John Clay was the single truly great player on some otherwise iffy teams. Clay was Mizzou's lone first-round draft pick in a span from 1982-00.
MUtigers.com Bio: An earth-moving offensive tackle, John Clay was a St. louis, Mo., native who earned consensus All-American honors as a senior in 1986. He lettered four years for Mizzou, from 1983-86, and was a first-team all-Big Eight selection in 1984-85-86, joining former standouts Johnny roland, Gary Lane and Phil Bradley as MU’s only three-time all-league honorees in the Big Eight era. a team co-captain in 1986, Clay ended his collegiate career by playing in the prestigious Blue-Gray Game and East-West Shrine Game. He went on to become a first-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Raiders of the National Football League in 1987. He was later traded to the San Diego Chargers in 1988, but a back injury prematurely ended his promising career.
Another candidate for Mizzou's best lineman ever, Edelman was an All-American at Mizzou and All-Pro in N'awlins.
Hall of Fame Bio: A St. Louis, Mo., native who was a rock on an offensive line that helped lead Mizzou Football to four consecutive winning seasons, and four straight bowl game appearances, from 1978-81 ... Earned All-American honors as a senior in 1981, despite missing two games during the season due to a knee injury ... Helped lead Tigers to 31 wins in four years, and appearances in the 1978 Liberty Bowl, the 1979 Hall of Fame Bowl, the 1980 Liberty Bowl and the 1981 Tangerine Bowl ... Mizzou won all of those bowl games, with the exception of the 1980 game, beating ranked opponents in 1979 and 1981 ... Was a team captain in 1981, and earned All-Big Eight honors in 1980, and later played in the Hula Bowl and Olympia Gold Bowl all-star games following his senior season in 1981 ... Was voted by MU fans onto Mizzou's All-Century Team in 1990 ... Went on to a solid professional football career, as he played offensive guard for the New Orleans Saints from 1982-90 ... Was a Pro-Bowl starter in 1987, and earned Pro-Bowl alternate status in 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1988, as well ... Worked as an actor in Hollywood for a period of time after finishing his pro football career, and has since gone on to become an accomplished photographer in the New Orleans area, where he currently resides.
Talk about picking your moments. Garlich was a good player throughout his career, but he was a great player in the big games. He was great in Columbus in 1976. He recovered a fumble, intercepted a pass, and made a huge redzone stop in South Bend in 1978. He had 21 tackles and a momentum-swinging interception in Lincoln in 1978. He was an integral part in many of Mizzou's biggest wins of the 1970s, and ... well, just ask Harry Ice how much love huge contributions in huge games can get you.
Hall of Fame Bio: The consummate student-athlete who starred both on the field and in the classroom ... A three-year starter at middle linebacker on Tiger teams that became known as giant killers, upsetting the likes of national powerhouses as Alabama, USC, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Nebraska ... Led MU in tackles (108) and interceptions (4) as a senior, and twice won Big Eight Conference Defensive Player of the week award when he made a game-saving fourth down goal line tackle to preserve a 3-0 win at Notre Dame, and later had 21 tackles and an interception to beat 2nd-ranked Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb. ... Was also named Sports Illustrated National Defensive Player of the Week in 1976 after helping lead MU to an upset win at Ohio State ... A three-time academic All-Big Eight pick (1976-77-78) who was named an academic All-American in 1976 and a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete in 1978 ... Went on to earn the prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in 1979, and is just one of six MU football players to ever earn the award ... A standout prep athlete from Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Mo., where he was an all-state performer in both football and track ... Currently resides in St. Louis, Mo.
Perhaps even more than Sean Weatherspoon, Hood was the perfect example of the Missouri staff's propensity for uncovering diamonds in the rough. He started out as a two-star, 230-pound defensive end for Amarillo Palo Duro High School, unnoticed by recruiting services. He committed to Missouri and received a third star when film began to leak; four years and about 60 pounds later, Hood proved himself almost as valuable as anybody else from the sterling 2005 recruiting class that saved Gary Pinkel's program.
Hood proved that stats aren't everything when it comes to defensive tackles. He never blew up the box score, but Missouri's defensive line performance improved virtually every play he was on the field. And as much as Missouri missed offensive players like Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and Chase Coffman ... as much as they may have briefly struggled under a new defensive coordinator ... perhaps the most underrated loss from 2008 to 2009 was that of Mr. Hood. Though they rebounded in 2010, Missouri's defense took a significant tumble in 2009, significantly missing their anchor in the middle. That anchor now plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers; a first-round pick in 2009, Hood has improved incrementally in Pittsburgh, just like he did in Columbia.
A mean s.o.b. dominant enough to get his number retired, Jenkins was the X-factor in the Split-T's initial success.
Hall of Fame Bio: A center/linebacker from Higginsville, Mo., Jenkins starred on Missouri's football teams in 1940 and '41. He was all-Big Six both years, and as a senior, served as team captain and won all-America honors on Don Faurot's 1941 Sugar Bowl team. He was named to the State of Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1976. During World War II, Jenkins served as a bomber pilot. He was shot down on his 27th mission and spent 17 months in a German POW camp.
A surprisingly nimble, diverse talent in a big body, Kekeris was the lynchpin of the teams Faurot left behind during the war.
Hall of Fame Bio: At 285 pounds, Jim Kekeris was used as a tackle, fullback and place-kicker by Coaches Don Faurot and Chauncey Simpson from 1943-46. A St Louisisn, Kekeris earned all-Big Six Conference honors three times, and was a second-team all-American as a senior. He played in the East-West Shrine game and College All-Star game, and spent time with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers. Was MU's "Most Valuable Player" in the 1946 Cotton Bowl, and later was voted to the all-time Cotton Bowl team.
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.
Both in the Mizzou Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame and among the fanbase as a whole, there is probably not enough appreciation for how good Missouri was in the mid-1920s under Gwinn Henry. They won at Nebraska when nobody won at Nebraska, they beat a powerhouse in Chicago, they tied a powerhouse in Tulane. They went 13-3-1 in 1924-25, and attended their first postseason game ever, the Los Angeles Christmas Festival game against USC. These were unprecedented heights for the Tigers, and who was at the center of all of it? Ed Lindenmeyer, Mizzou's first ever All-American. For a school defined by great linemen, from Lindenmeyer, to Darold Jenkins and Jim Kekeris, to Ed Blaine, to Morris Towns, to Brad Edelman and John Clay, to Mike Morris and Rob Riti, to the increasingly great greats of the 2000s, the best ever might have been the very first standout.
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 is not on The Wall, but Harry Ice, a flashy runner with a flashy name, is). 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.
Every March and August, fans of a college football team hear buzz about some new guy who is just terrorizing the scout team, a surefire all-star who is guaranteed to start from Day One and leave early for the pros. Almost every single player who receives this unfair level of hype, fails to live up to it. Almost every player is not Aldon Smith.
The hype train for Smith began over a year before he saw the field. During fall practices for the 2008 season, beat writers and coaches could not stop raving about the potential Smith was showing; the only thing that could prevent him from playing as a true freshman was the NCAA clearinghouse, which took as long as possible to designate him as eligible and fully qualified. They took long enough that, when he was eventually cleared, the staff decided it was too close to the season, and he had missed too much time, and they redshirted him. Joe Ganz, Robert Griffin, Josh Freeman and Sam Bradford, quarterbacks who never had the pleasure of going against Mr. Smith because of the redshirt, should all write the clearinghouse a lovely thank you note. Smith's career was a supernova blast of just 23 games, 29 tackles for loss, endless personality, and countless highlights. And in his first year in the NFL, he was one of the most dominant rookies in the game.
Was Lindenmeyer Mizzou's best lineman? Jenkins? Or maybe this first-team All-American?
Hall of Fame Bio: One of the most accomplished offensive linemen on both the collegiate and professional level in Tiger Football history ... Was a 1st-Team All-American as a senior offensive tackle in 1976, as he helped pave the way for a potent offense that helped the Tigers claim monumental road wins at 8th-ranked USC (46-25), at 2nd-ranked Ohio State (22-21) and at 3rd-ranked Nebraska (34-24) that season ... Won his first letter as a sophomore, but really came into his own during his junior season, and capped the year by more than holding his own against Oklahoma's Leroy Selmon, who won the 1975 Outland and Lombardi awards and went on to become the No. 1 selection in the 1976 NFL Draft ... Selected to play in the prestigious Blue-Gray Classic, as well as the Hula Bowl and Japan Bowl ... Was a 1st-round NFL Draft pick in 1977 by the Houston Oilers as the 11th-overall selection, and went on to a solid nine-year career in the NFL, playing from 1978-83 with Houston, and from 1984-86 for the Washington Redskins ... Was a standout student who majored in engineering at Mizzou ... Native of St. Louis, Mo., who now resides in Richmond, Texas with his wife Bridgette ... Children include Raven and Brittany ... Is a civil design engineer.
Ed "Brick" Travis
He lost a year of eligibility when Mizzou's 1918 season was canceled due to war. He played under two different coaches in his two years. He still made his mark. He stood six feet tall and nearly 200 pounds in an era where that would be about 6'5, 250, and he was a member of Mizzou's first hall of fame class alongside Roger Wehrli, Kellen Winslow, Don Faurot and Dan Devine. And his nickname was "Brick." What else do you need to know?
Hall of Fame Bio: From St. Charles, Mo., Travis starred for the Tigers as a tackle in 1919-20 earning all-Missouri Valley Conference honors both years. He went on to play professional football with Rock Island (Ill.) in 1921, and the St. Louis All-Stars in 1923. He was inducted into the State of Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1972, and the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1974. He was a member of the University's first Intercollegiate Athletic Committee.