With back-to-back Southeastern Conference East Division championships, Missouri’s national recognition and respect has never been higher.
But the seeds for the Tigers’ recent success were planted by the 2007 and 2008 teams, which broke through with the first two Big 12 division titles in program history.
Tight end Chase Coffman, quarterback Chase Daniel and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin — the offensive backbone of those teams — were inducted Friday into the MU Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame along with three other former Tiger standouts.
“I’m still pinching myself a little bit,” said Daniel, the Chiefs’ backup quarterback. “It’s pretty amazing — five, six years out — that we were able to all go in together as far as a football class goes.”
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Maclin, one of the most-prized NFL free agents this offseason, said he faithfully follows Missouri and swells with pride seeing how well coach Gary Pinkel’s program has adjusted to the nation’s toughest conference.
“It’s been really cool to see how successful they’ve been …,” said Maclin, a former first-round pick who has spent his entire career with the Philadelphia Eagles. “I like to think that myself, Chase and Chase kind of had something to do with that, that we kind of set the standard and set the bar. I think we intrigued people to come here, and now it’s gone to the next level.”
The trio certainly set a new standard.
Coffman — a Raymore-Peculiar graduate — Daniel and Maclin led Missouri’s offense to unprecedented heights as the 2008 squad set program records with 591 points and 73 touchdowns.
Daniel owns three of the top four passing seasons in Missouri history, including a record 4,335 yards as a senior, and three of the top four seasons in terms of passing efficiency, also setting a season record with a 159.4 rating in 2008.
He was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2007 and remains the Tigers’ all-time leader with 12,515 passing yards, 13,485 yards of total offense, 1,094 completions, 1,609 attempts, 101 touchdowns passes, a 148.9 rating and a completion percentage of 68.0 percent.
Despite playing only two seasons, Maclin is Missouri’s all-time leader with 5,609 all-purpose yards and ranks sixth in career receptions with 182 and fourth in career receiving yards with 2,315.
Coffman, who won the 2008 John Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end, is the Tigers’ career leader with 247 receptions and 30 touchdowns. He also ranks third in career receiving yards with 2,659.
“I know whenever I was coming in, people were talking about coach Pinkel maybe being on the chopping block … ” said Coffman, whose daughter, Elsie, turned 1 year old last week. “Just being able to get past that hump and achieve what we achieved and have the players accomplish individually what they did was amazing.”
Maclin said the response he gets when he talks about being a Missouri player has changed, especially in the last two seasons.
“They tried to laugh at us the first year (in the SEC) when we were battling injuries and losing, missing our starting quarterback and all types of stuff,” Maclin said. “There’s a lot more respect now.”
Baseball player John Dettmer, the Tigers’ all-time strikeout leader; track/cross country star Ashley Patten, a three-time All-American; and Oak Grove graduate and gymnast Alisha Robinson, a two-time All-American and two-time NCAA regional champion, also were inducted into MU’s hall of fame.
Robinson, who currently teaches gymnastics at Xtreme Gymnastics in Lee’s Summit, was incredulous when MU athletic director Mike Alden called to inform her of her selection.
“I asked him he had the right person, but it’s a huge honor and it’s amazing to be part of this class,” Robinson said. “It shows everybody out there that your hard work and dedication in sports can pay off.”