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Cody Schrader and Great Missouri Rushing Seasons

In the second of a series, where does Cody Schrader’s 2023 season rank among the best years by Missouri running backs?

NCAA Football: Missouri at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri’s tremendous football season was driven by a number of factors. Improved line play, a pair of clutch kicks, a revamped passing attack, a winning culture. But two ingredients stood out above all the others in the flavor profile: brilliant individual seasons from running back Cody Schrader and receiver Luther Burden III.

It was obvious how much these two stars meant to the success of the team – it was obvious whether you were just a casual fan flipping through the games on a Saturday, or a diehard Mizzou Tiger. It was obvious to the local and the national media, as both players have received heaps of publicity, All-America status from most outlets, and major award consideration.

Burden’s success gave the team legitimacy in the early going of the season, as he arrived on campus as a big-name prospect and commanded attention from the jump. He thrived in September and October, as Missouri demonstrated their winning ways behind the newly explosive passing offense powered by Burden. But Schrader took over down the stretch, his powerhouse running clinching multiple close conference games, and eventually clinching a spot in a prestigious bowl game.

So where do these two singular seasons stack up amongst the annals of all-time Missouri campaigns? With one more game left to go, what can these superstars do to elevate themselves even higher on the list?

To answer this question, I’ll look at the top ten Missouri running back seasons since 1998 and find Cody Schrader’s rank in that chart. Click here to read last week’s article about Burden and great receiving seasons.

HM) Marcus Murphy, 2014 – 205 touches, 1,136 scrimmage yards, 5 TDs. 785 return yards, 3 return TDs.

Honorable Mention goes to Marcus Murphy, who had a fine season for a running back in 2014 but an incredible season as a returner. He was an All-American in the “All Purpose” role thanks to his combined efforts, including the game at Florida where he scored touchdowns as a rusher, kick returner, and punt returner. He was a massive weapon for Missouri in the early years of the SEC.

Okay, onto the “real” running back seasons…

10) Damarea Crockett, 2016 – 153 carries, 1,062 yards, 10 TDs

2016 was a lost season — Barry Odom’s first year was a 4-8 mess that has since been vacated in the record books. It is fitting, then, that it featured the best season by a forgotten runner. Crockett impressed as a freshman for this rebuilding program, but his star faded as the passing game flourished in the coming years.

9) Larry Rountree III, 2018 – 225 carries, 1,216 yards, 11 TDs.

The first of two truly excellent Larry Rountree (editor’s note: we call him Larry Three-Sticks here) seasons. He broke out as a sophomore while carrying the load for Odom’s best team, setting the stage for what would be one of the finest running back careers in Mizzou history.

8) Tony Temple, 2007 – 186 carries, 1039 yards, 12 TDs.

Tony Temple started and finished his Mizzou career in brilliant fashion: he was one of the biggest recruiting wins of the burgeoning Rivals dot com era, and it ended with his historic romp over the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Cotton Bowl. In between he had some ups and downs, but he ended his memorable career in stunning fashion; one hopes Cody Schrader can duplicate that Dallas dominance. Let’s take a moment to enjoy the highlights of that game set to the dulcet tones of Bono and U2.

7) Henry Josey, 2011 – 145 carries, 1168 yards, 9 TDs.

Like Rountree, Henry Josey finds himself on this list twice. 2011 was an archetypal Missouri season: the joys of overachieving, followed by the heartbreak of a calamitous ending.

6) Zack Abron, 2003 – 219 carries, 1,1155 yards, 14 TDs.

The thunder to Brad Smith’s lightning, Abron capped off an underrated career with a strong senior season and the first of many bowl seasons of Gary Pinkel’s tenure. Abron was a short little powerhouse of a back, and he ran like an avalanche of bowling balls.

5) Larry Rountree III, 2020 – 209 carries, 972 yards, 14 TDs.

Rountree’s 2020 counting numbers are lower than his 2018 season, but the team played three fewer games and all were against SEC competition. His per-game averages were stronger as a senior, and the football circumstances were much more difficult.

With the Mizzou program switching from Odom’s hands to the Eli Drinkwitz era, Rountree showed us the potential of a workhorse back in the new head man’s zone running schemes.

4) Henry Josey, 2013 – 174 carries, 1166 yards, 17 TDs.

The emotional triumph of a great win or a championship season are often made even sweeter by the pain and suffering that comes before the ascension. For Josey, that pain was literal, not metaphorical; his horrific knee injury that ended his 2011 season and cost him a 2012 campaign made his success — and the team’s — that much more exhilarating in 2013.

There are many indelible moments from this season: the double pass in Athens, the fake punt in Oxford, the scoop ‘n’ score in Dallas. But no moment was as perfect as Josey’s triumphant breakaway against Texas A&M and his roar into the sky. He roared for all of us, he roared for his teammates, and most importantly, he roared for himself.

3) Tyler Badie, 2021 – 268 carries, 1,604 yards, 14 TDs.

Badie capped off his incredible career with a workhorse 2021 effort, literally carrying Missouri into a bowl game single-handedly. For three years people questioned his ability to handle a full workload in the SEC because of his small stature. But in the fourth year, freed from having to split carries with Rountree, he went out and had five 200-yard games. His single-season yardage total is still first in the Missouri record books — Schrader’s bowl game pending. You could make the case for any of these top three seasons to be #1.

2) Devin West, 1998 – 283 carries, 1,578 yards, 17 TDs.

West’s preposterous 1998 season was the hallmark of the last good team of the “before times,” before Pinkel and Smith ignited the Missouri football renaissance. Like Badie, West found himself the lone tailback after Brock Olivo graduated, and like Badie, West capitalized with a dominant effort. And don’t forget his legendary 319-yard outing against the beakers in a 41-23 win.

1 ) Cody Schrader, 2023 – 247 carries, 1,489 yards, 13 TDs, bowl game pending.

I am ranking 2023 Schrader #1 overall. He took home a national individual award, was a consensus All-American, and finished as a Doak Walker finalist. Like Badie, he was dominant in November, but unlike Badie, he did it for a team competing at the top of the sport’s rankings. Schrader’s individual story as a former D-II walk-on transfer captured the hearts of America, but his strong running at the end of games captured the hearts of Missouri fans. Seemingly every Missouri win of the past two seasons has an icing on the cake Schrader fourth quarter touchdown run. Go take a bow in Dallas, young man.