In 2014, the Missouri Tigers were counted out for the most part. There was a large exodus of talent that left for various reasons (mostly to the NFL), and no one really believed that Missouri could be competitive in the same way they were in the year before.
Everyone remembers the awesome pass rushers, and Maty Mauk running around doing whatever he was doing, but what people forget most about this team is that they had a running back tandem that took a back seat to almost no one in the country.
Marcus Murphy always represented a swiss army knife type of back who could do a little bit of everything, and in 2014, he did exactly that. He was arguably the most electric player on the team. Not only was he effective as a traditional runner, but also as a pass catcher, and was one of Missouri’s best kick returners of all time. (7 total returns for TDs in his career)
He finished with over 1,100 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns, and was a threat to take it to the house every time he touched the ball.
He was more of the lightning, but what about the boom?
Russell Hansbrough has become a pretty under-appreciated player as time goes on. He was tough, ran hard and really left it all on the field for Mizzou. In 2014, Hansbrough was the leading rusher for a Missouri team that needed every ounce of production for their offense. We may forget, but that offense had a tendency to stink up the joint at times, in particular through the air.
Russell finished 6th in the SEC in rushing yards with 1,084 yards and was an excellent between the tackles back for Mizzou.
Murphy and Hansbrough were both lightly recruited, three star running backs out of Texas high schools. And both are a model of what player development at Missouri looked like during the Pinkel era. Find an undervalued kid from Texas, bring him to Missouri, and they’ll make you a good football player. What a recipe.
Both have had stops in the NFL on numerous rosters and practice squads, but their impact remains felt at Mizzou by winning that division title in 2014. They made a lot of plays and found a way to make them in less than ideal circumstances during that season.
If you feel like reminiscing a bit....
Hansbrough vs Texas A&M in 2014:
Oh, and Marcus Murphy destroying Florida in The Swamp.