Ever wondered what a Mizzou team that was comprised of only Missouri kids would look like? Or wonder how good an only-Texan Mizzou squad would do? Well, you’re in luck! This offseason, the Rock M Masthead is assembling the best team of Mizzou players by state that they graduated high school from. We compiled a list of the significant starters on every team from the year 2000 on and voted on the best players at their position group in order to create three “All-State” Mizzou squads: Team Missouri, Team Texas, and Team USA. Over the next nine weeks you’ll read about these Mizzou Greats that hailed from the respective regions and, hopefully, come away impressed with just how good these fictional teams could actually be.
Missouri’s best teams of the past 20 years always happened when they fielded an elite offensive line. This week we honor the gigantic, quiet contributors to the offensive points-machines we love so much.
Let me start this entry off by saying that the Team USA offensive line vote was the first time our panel ran into a tie:
Elvis Fisher was a Gary Pinkel rarity: a freshman who started on the offensive line. Fisher battled injuries late into his career but was an absolute anchor, defending Chase Daniel’s blind side in ‘08, Blaine Gabbert’s in ‘09 and ‘10, and James Franklin’s in ‘12. But the vote came down to Tony Palmer and Connor McGovern with 3 votes a piece so we had a run-off vote.
Tony Palmer was a 3-time All-Big XII lineman and Brad Smith’s roommate. He earned freshman All-Big XII honors in his first year starting and was an absolute road grader for those early Pinkel teams. Any time Brad Smith uncorked a highlight-reel-run, it was typically because Tony Palmer pushed a grown man to the ground like he was flinging toddlers around in a bounce house. His quickness and strength was a rarity...and, unfortunately, he didn’t have too enough credit to lure our panel to vote for him outright. First bowl game in 6 years? Beating Nebraska for the first time in three decades? Helping to save Gary Pinkel’s job in the 2005 Independence Bowl? Not good enough, sir!
Certainly, McGovern was no slouch either. He was a part of that tiny 2011 recruiting class of 17-signees that produced 8 guys who didn’t finish their careers at Mizzou and four NFL players (Sheldon Richardson, Kentrell Brothers, Shane Ray, Conner McGovern).
Hailing from Fargo, ND, McGovern arrived on campus and was thrust into a starting spot in 2012 after redshirting in the 2011 season. Like most of the non-injured folk in that 2012 season, he wasn’t quite ready for the spotlight but played admirably in that first SEC season that made people believe that Missouri was overmatched and ill-fit. But McGovern, like Mizzou, took his lumps and kept improving, earning the starting guard spot in ‘13 and ‘14 as part of one of the greatest offensive lines in Mizzou history.
He might have been a better weight lifter than offensive lineman - and was certainly a better guard than a tackle - but McGovern was a quick, versatile, aggressive mauler on the inside, blowing holes in defensive lines for Henry Josey, Marcus Murphy, and Russell Hansbrough to gallop through. He wasn’t much of a talker in public but clearly shared the same quirky side that the rest of his linemen enjoyed (y’all remember those Christmas Thursday vines that Evan Boehm used to post? You do now!) and was talented enough to be a four-year starter on one of the most talented 3-year rosters the Tigers have ever fielded.
Team-USA’s offensive line pool had a tremendous amount of talent and McGovern was selected as the best of them. That’s quite the honor for an overlooked signee.