All week, Rock M Nation celebrated the induction of its inaugural class to the Rock M Nation Wall of Excellence. Today, we welcome our final winner of our Tier I category, honoring contributions from players who finished their careers in the last five years.
How to earn lifetime admiration from Rock M Nation: 1) Be really, really good, 2) Continue to drag yourself off the mat and make plays despite numerous injuries, 3) win a national award like, say, the Mackey Award...and 4) thrust the nunchuk upward.
Maybe it's just the positive effect being recent tends to have on perceptions, but I'm pretty sure Chase Coffman was the best player at his position that I've ever seen. Maybe not the best player overall, but as far as performing the duties of a tight end and performing them with both panache and toughness, nobody did it better than Chase Coffman. In his first game, he caught a gorgeous falling TD in the back of the endzone. In his last, he dragged a bum leg around the Alamo Dome and caught seven huge passes in a narrow win. In between...well, he earned a place on The Wall.
If ever there was a man who qualified for the Wall of Excellence solely based on his contribution to Rock M Nation alone, Chase Coffman would be it. It just so happens he's also the greatest tight end in NCAA history.
Over the last two days, we've discussed the incredible contributions from Brad Smith and Chase Daniel and their progression as it pertained to the development of "the Missouri brand." One big link between the two was the big man wearing No. 45 on the receiving end of passes from both QBs. Coffman's career production was simply incredible. The Division I record holder for receptions by a tight end. The Missouri record holder for receptions (247) and touchdowns (30), amassing a second-best 2,659 receiving yards. But even his ridiculous numbers don't tell his story.
Coffman stormed onto the scene as a freshman with his simply unfair blend of size, athleticism, and one of the best sets of hands I've ever seen. His corner of the endzone catch against South Carolina in the 2005 Independence Bowl kept Missouri alive, paving way for the turning point that has already been harped on numerous times.
As far as the spotlight is concerned, Coffman took a bit of a back seat to the upperclassman excellence of Martin Rucker in 2006 and 2007, although the numbers remained exceptional. Most notably, Coffman's three-touchdown performance (including the famous "THRUST NUNCHUCK GODDAMN UPWARD" play) in Boulder in 2007 forever seared the man's athleticism and production in the minds of Mizzou fans forever. And despite all the help Coffman provided, perhaps the biggest statement of Coffman's importance was what happened when he was off the field. Missouri notoriously struggled in the red zone when Coffman was injured during his career, as an offense that was ruthlessly efficient became merely moderately dangerous in the red zone in his absence.
In 2008, Coffman could have slapped a label on his highlight tape and won an Oscar for best special effects. Almost every single week, Coffman would make a play leaving even Missouri fans in awe - Missouri fans who wouldn't have been surprised even if Coffman had developed the ability to fly. There was the hurdle against Illinois. The FIVE stiff-arm play against Nevada. The full extension against Nebraska. The catch against OSU that Pinkel called "one of the greatest catches" he'd ever seen. His lonely decision to actually show up against Texas. The one-handed jump pass snare and hurdle against Colorado. His personal field day against Baylor. Each and every week it was something special.
So, as we wrap up the 2009 inductions to Rock M Nation Wall of Excellence, we tip our cap to the man whose hurdles helped build a community here at RMN. The man, the myth, the legend, the Mackey winner, the nickname. Thrust nunchuck upward forever, sir.