It's mid-January, which means it's time to induct another set of former Mizzou athletes into the school's athletics hall of fame.
The class will be formally inducted Fri., Feb. 26th, in a ceremony and celebration to be held that evening at the Columns Club at Memorial Stadium (East Side). The group will also be recognized at the Mizzou Basketball game the next day against Texas A&M. The Friday celebration is open to the public, and a limited amount of tickets are available for purchase for $40 by ordering online at TSFMizzou.com/HOF. Table sponsorships are also available.
The 2015 class is full of star-studded performers who have been among the best in Mizzou history in their sports. Here is a look at this year's inductees, with more extensive biographical information which follows:
CLASS OF 2015
Danario Alexander – Football (2006-09) [Native of Marlin, Texas]
Overcame numerous serious injuries to establish himself as the Mizzou record holder for most career receiving yards … Had a monster senior season which saw him win first-team All-American honors as he led the NCAA with 1,781 yards on 113 receptions and 14 touchdowns.;
Max Askren – Wrestling (2006-10) [Native of Hartland, Wisc.]
Won an NCAA title as a senior in 2010 at 184 pounds (one of five Mizzou wrestlers to win a national championship), and was a three-time NCAA All-American, a two-time Big 12 Conference champion, as well as a four-time Academic All-American.;
Russ Bell – Track & Field (2000-03) /Football (2002-03) [Native of Jefferson City, Mo.]
A standout two-sport performer who was a four-time All-American in various throws for the track and field team, while he also became a high-quality defensive lineman as a walk-on to the Mizzou Football team for two years, eventually starting 12 games.;
Jack Davis – Track & Field (1955-57) / Baseball (1955-57) [Native of Kansas City, Mo.]
An outstanding two-sport standout who achieved at the highest level for Mizzou in both baseball and track and field. Won 1st-Team All-American baseball honors as a senior in 1957 when he hit .437 and was a conference champion sprinter/hurdler who held MU records.;
Dr. Rick McGuire – Track & Field Coach (1983-2010)
Longtime coach who developed 143 All-American performers, 100 conference champions, 29 USATF National Team picks, 7 NCAA champions, 5 Olympians, 3 World Champions, 2 Olympic silver medalists and 3 collegiate record holders in his illustrious career.;
Sarah Shire – Gymnastics (2008-10) [Native of Columbia, Mo.]
Arguably the top gymnast to ever wear a leotard for Mizzou, who was a four-time All-American as well as a two-time Big 12 Gymnast of the Year. Was national runner-up on the floor exercise in 2010 as she led the Tigers to their first-ever team appearance at the NCAA championships;
I just sort of assumed Rick McGuire was already in there, honestly. Regardless, a ferocious class here, filled mostly with recent starts.
The headliner, though, is Alexander, who in 2009 put together maybe the single greatest individual-season performance the Tigers' football program has ever seen.
2009 (last 6 games): 77 targets, 55 catches (71.4%), 1,080 yards (14.0 per target)
To put in perspective how amazing he was over the last six games, think about it like this: for a full season, that is a rate of 167 targets, 119 catches ... and 2,340 yards. Against Kansas State, he made one of the single most jarring plays I've ever seen: he caught a little slant a few yards downfield, and with two defenders coming toward him, he came to a nearly complete stop, changed direction, and outran them to the end zone. In that same game, he caught a long bomb for a touchdown and bowled over a set of defenders for a huge third-down conversion. He had the complete skill set. He finished that game with 10 catches for 200 yards and three touchdowns, and it might not have even been his best game of the season. Those honors probably go to the Kansas game (15 catches, 233 yards, one score). He was a one-man offense, and he was unlike anything I've ever seen.
In your life as a fan, you hope for great moments and great seasons. You hope to be rooting for greatness, basically, and you have no idea in advance how many opportunities you'll have to do so. In 2009, Missouri fans watched their team limp through a transition season without Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, William Moore, two coordinators, etc., and go just 8-5 overall after going 22-6 in the previous two seasons. But within the frustration of that season was the most brilliant set of performances we'll probably ever see from a receiver. For his career, perhaps Danario Alexander wasn't quite as successful as others -- he didn't put back-to-back seasons together like Maclin, he didn't win a national award like Chase Coffman (though I'm still incredibly annoyed that he wasn't the Biletnikoff winner that year). But his 2009 season was simply unreal. Celebrating a set of moments like that is exactly why we created this list in the first place.
Congratulations to all.