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! (And yes, this is worth putting off Georgia Week for a day...)
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.
In the coming days, we'll look at 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
After the jump, we start the voting for Group 1, and it's loaded.
Before Blaine Gabbert, Aldon Smith, Sean Weatherspoon, Ziggy Hood and Jeremy Maclin were becoming first-rounders, there were guys like Bill Dellastatious. Dellastatious was Mizzou's second-ever first-round draft pick (in an era where there were single-digit teams) and their last one for 20 years. His athleticism from the halfback position intrigued the Detroit Lions, who took him eighth overall. Unfortunately, it appears that injuries nagged him in the pros just like they did at Mizzou (he missed a good portion of the 1945 season to injury before thriving late). Instead of a long pro career, Dellastatious represented Mizzou in the coaching ranks. He was Florida golf coach in the late-1940s, then head football coach at Missouri State in the mid-1950s.
Known as one of the best Split-T quarterbacks of the formation's first decade, Bus was an absolute star in the post-war era.
Hall of Fame Bio: A native of St. Joseph, Mo., Entsminger lettered as a star quarterback at Missouri on the 1942 Big Six championship team, and from 1946 to '48. A dazzling option quarterback, he is perhaps best known for engineering MU's 20-14 upset of the Doak Walker-led SMU Mustangs in 1948. That Missouri team went on post an 8-3 record, including a narrow 24-23 loss to Clemson in the Gator Bowl. An honorable mention choice on Mizzou's All-Century Football Team, Entsminger led the Tigers in rushing, passing and total offense in 1947, and in passing, total offense and scoring in 1948. He received all-Big Six honors in 1947, and was all-Big Seven in 1948.
Blaine Gabbert makes the candidates list as much because of what he represented as what he accomplished on the field. Gabbert came to Mizzou because, quite simply, they were thriving and Nebraska was not. An early commit to family friend Bill Callahan and Nebraska, Gabbert was destined to run Callahan's West Coast Offense. He was the golden boy, the five-star stud from Parkway West, and he was prepared to leave his home state. But then he didn't. As Nebraska faltered and Mizzou surged, Gabbert reconsidered his commitment and eventually signed with Mizzou, bringing tackle Dan Hoch with him. Without Chase Daniel and Missouri's 2007 success, there is no Blaine Gabbert. And without Gabbert, there is perhaps no next level of success.
With Chase Daniel and Chase Patton graduating and Blaine Dalton getting kicked off the team, Gabbert was, for a little while, the only quarterback on Missouri's roster in 2009 who a) was brought to Mizzou on scholarship and b) wasn't an overwhelmed true freshman. When he suffered a severely sprained ankle at the hands of Ndamukong Suh, he played through it, for better or worse. He may have had the prototypical five-star arm, but in his two years, he showed a high level of toughness and the bluest of blue-collar work ethics. He shunned stats for wins, and those wins came more frequently in 2010. With nearly flawless performances against both Texas A&M and Oklahoma, Gabbert helped undefeated Missouri move to sixth in the BCS standings nearing the end of October. The Tigers briefly faltered, then rebounded for their third ten-win season in four years. Without Gabbert, Mizzou quite possibly falters back to a mid-decade (or worse) level. With him, they continued their ascent.
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.
One of the most strangely controversial Tigers in recent history -- controversial primarily because of his place on the real wall of retired numbers, but also because of his strange congressional candidacy a few years ago -- Olivo was also the most hard-working.
MUtigers.com Bio: There aren't many instances in the game of football these days when a team's starting tailback is allowed to participate on special teams, let alone volunteers for such duties.
The story of former Mizzou running back Brock Olivo, however, is one of those instances. Olivo, whose number 27 will be retired this afternoon during the Tigers' home opener against Eastern Illinois, was known not only for his prowess on the offensive side of the ball, but also for his diligence to all aspects of the Tigers' special teams unit.
In 1997, his senior year, the Washington, Mo., native was named the first-ever recipient of the Mosi Tatupu Special Teams Player of the Year Award, becoming the first Mizzou football player to ever earn a national honor. Olivo, who recorded nine special teams tackles in addition to his blocking duties on the return teams, harbors a sense of disbelief at being the first Tiger to receive such recognition.
"Whoever was selecting national awards over the years must have been looking at a map that didn't include the state of Missouri. I guess they must have updated it in '97," he says.
While Olivo rose to prominence with his special teams accomplishments in the '97 season, it was also a milestone year for the senior in his role as Mizzou's starting tailback.
By the end of the year, Olivo's name stood at the top of the Tigers' all-time career lists for most rushing yards (3,026), rushing touchdowns (27), and all-purpose yards (3,475).
John Clay and other solid linemen had some help on those mid- to late-1980s offenses. They didn't have to open up much of a hole for Darrell Wallace to dart through it. Until Brock Olivo, Wallace was Mizzou's all-time leading rusher.
Hall of Fame Bio: One of the grittiest performers ever at Mizzou, Wallace overcame personal tragedies during his career from 1984-87 to become the school's all time leading rusher with 2,607 yards. He broke James Wilder's record despite standing 5-foot-7 and weighing 168 pounds. He was second-team all-Big Eight and honorable mention all-American in 1985 and '86, and was named a sophomore all-American by Football News in 1985. Wallace is the last Tiger to run for 1,000 yards, with 1,120 in 1985, a year in which he led the Big Eight in rushing. He was CFL's Western Division Rookie-of-the-Year in 1989, while playing with the British Columbia Lions. He also played with several other CFL teams, in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and in the WLAF. Currently, he lives in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Hall of Fame Bio: A silky-smooth and deceptively fast tailback who became one of Mizzou's alltime bests in the backfield, and helped lead MU football back to the winners circle ... A native of Moberly, Mo. who ended his career ranking No. 2 on the alltime school career rushing chart, with 2,954 yards (ranked No. 3 at the beginning of the 2004 season) ... If bowl stats were counted in career totals when he played, he would have left as MU's career leader in the category (had 229 yards in two bowl games combined) ... Ranks as MU's alltime leader for all-purpose yards in a career (2,824), season (1,621 in 1998) and game (333 vs. Kansas in 1998) ... His 108 points scored in 1998 ranks 3rd on the MU single-season scoring list, and his career total of 174 points ranks as 8th-best in school history ... Was named a 1st-Team All-American at tailback (Football News, The Sporting News) as a senior in 1998, and helped lead Mizzou to an 8-4 season and a win over West Virginia in the Insight.com Bowl - MU's first bowl win since 1981 ... Rushed for 125 yards in the bowl victory ... Ended MU's 12-year All-American drought, as he became the first All-American since John Clay in 1986 ... He was also the first Tiger running back to be named All-American since Bob Steuber in 1942 ... Ranked 5th in the nation in rushing in 1998, with an MU single-season record 1,578 yards and 17 TDs ... His 18 total TDs stood as the single-season record until 2003 ... Holds two of the top three single-game rushing marks in school history ... Shattered the record with a 319-yard, 2-TD outing against Kansas in 1998, and later added a 252-yard game at Iowa State, which is currently the No. 3 mark ... Was a semi-finalist for the prestigious Doak Walker Award in 1998, and played in the Senior Bowl following his senior season.
One of Mizzou's first two black players, along with Norris Stevenson (both of whom passed away in the last decade), West is another rather under-appreciated Mizzou star. If Danny 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.
Some on Rock M have stated preferences for old-school, multi-sport stars. Well here's your guy.
Hall of Fame Bio: An accomplished two-sport star at Missouri in the early 1950s. He played halfback in football, lettering in 1950-51. He was team captain as a senior, when he earned all-Big Seven Conference honors and led the Tigers in rushing, total offense and punting. He also set a school record that season with nine pass receptions against Oklahoma, a record that stood for nearly 40 years. In baseball, he was an all-American outfielder in 1952, when the Tigers placed second at the College World Series. He led the club in hitting as a junior, and as a senior led the team in hitting, home runs and runs batted in. He signed with the Chicago White Sox in 1952, and later played professional football as well, with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1959-60. A native of Kansas City, Mo.