Campus Corner

Missouri camp countdown: The 15 best offensive players of the Gary Pinkel era

Playing for Mssouri from 2005 to 2008, quarterback Chase Daniel attempted more passes (1,609) and completed more passes (1,094) than anyone else in MU history. He finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting as a junior.
Playing for Mssouri from 2005 to 2008, quarterback Chase Daniel attempted more passes (1,609) and completed more passes (1,094) than anyone else in MU history. He finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting as a junior. deulitt@kcstar.com

Whether it’s scoring records, passing records or big plays, Missouri has rewritten the offensive record books under Gary Pinkel.

He’s had 32 players drafted into the NFL, including 15 players on offense. Those numbers jump by one if wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham is included.

Quarterback Maty Mauk and center Evan Boehm didn’t make the cut, but they have a chance to crack this list one day.

Who is the best offensive player of the Pinkel era? A strong case can be made for Brad Smith, Jeremy Maclin and Chase Daniel.

Keep reading to find out as we celebrate the beginning of Pinkel’s 15th season at MU. We’re also offering our take on the biggest wins, toughest losses, best defensive players and defining moments during Pinkel’s time with the Tigers this week.

PINKEL ERA’S 15 BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYERS

15. OL A.J. Ricker (2000-03)

A two-time captain, Ricker started 47 consecutive games at center for the Tigers. He was an All-Big 12 performer as a senior in 2003 when Missouri made its first bowl-game appearance under Pinkel.

14. RB Tony Temple (2004-07)

Temple, a Rockhurst graduate, ranks seventh on the Tigers’ all-time rushing list with 2,552 yards and 22 touchdowns on 466 carries. He was at his best in bowl games, racking up 194 yards against Oregon State in 2006 Sun Bowl and obliterated that mark with an MU-bowl record 281 yards the next season against Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.

13. OL Adam Spieker (2004-07)

Spieker owns the MU record with 50 consecutive starts, tying tight end Martin Rucker and cornerback Carl Gettis for the longest streak in program history. Spieker was the anchor for some very good offensive lines and incredibly explosive offenses. He was an All-Big 12 performer, third-team All-American and a Rimington Trophy finalist as the nation’s top center in 2007.

12. QB Blaine Gabbert (2008-10)

Gabbert was a first-round pick by Jacksonville after amassing 6,822 passing yards in three season with the Tigers. MU went 18-8 in his two seasons as a starter and Gabbert’s career 132.6 efficiency rating ranks third in program history. He finished with three 400-yard passing games in his career.

11. RB Derrick Washington (2007-09)

If off-field issues were considered, Washington probably doesn’t make the list. His dismissal amid sexual assault charges before the 2010 season (for which he was eventually convicted) was a massive blow to a promising team. On the field, Washington was a dynamic playmaker, who totaled 2,085 yards and 28 touchdowns in basically two seasons. His 19 total touchdowns in 2008 match Brad Smith’s single-season MU record.

10. QB James Franklin (2010-13)

Franklin is an underrated player in MU history, perhaps because of his injury issues as a junior and senior. He ranks second all-time with the Tigers in pass efficiency (136.7), third in total offense (8,691), third in passing yards (6,962) and third in passing touchdown (51).

9. WR Danario Alexander (2006-09)

The Tigers’ all-time leader in receiving yards with 2,778, Alexander also is tied with Jeremy Maclin for the most receiving touchdowns by a wide receiver (22) and ranks fourth in career catches (191). Alexander’s senior season was the stuff of legend as he set single-season records for receptions (113), yards (1,781) and receiving touchdowns (14). Injuries kept him from cracking the top five, but his three 200-yard games are an MU record.

8. WR Justin Gage (1999-02)

He wasn’t recruited by Pinkel, but Gage flourished on his watch. Gage graduated as the Tigers’ all-time leader in receptions (200), receiving yards (2,704) and receiving touchdowns (18) — all records that have since been eclipsed as MU transitioned to a spread offense. Gage still owns the single-game records for most catches (16) and most receiving yards (236, twice).

7. RB Henry Josey (2010-13)

Imagine what Josey’s legend might have been had he stayed for his senior season. As it stands, Josey ranks fifth in program history with 2,771 yards and fourth with 30 touchdowns. His recovery from a gruesome knee injury was among the nation’s best storylines during Missouri’s meteoric rise in 2013 to a top-five ranking, school-record 12-win season and the first of back-to-back SEC East division titles.

6. TE Martin Rucker (2004-07)

The first in a record-breaking line of tight ends to roll through Missouri, Rucker ranks second in career receptions with 203 and fifth in career receiving yards with 2,175. His 18 touchdowns are tied with Justin Gage for fourth-most in program history. He played a critical role on the breakthrough 2007 squad with a team-best 84 catches for 834 yards with eight touchdowns.

5. RB Marcus Murphy (2010-14)

We’re obviously including special-teams production in ranking Murphy so high, but he’s arguably the second-best playmaker with the ball in his hands behind Jeremy Maclin during Pinkel’s tenure. Murphy ranks behind only Maclin in the MU record book for all-purpose yards in a season (1,921 in 2014) and a career (5,112). He finished with 1,957 yards rushing, 318 yards receiving and a school-record 2,837 return yards. Murphy’s four punt-return touchdowns are a Missouri record and he’s tied for the most kickoff-return touchdowns with three.

4. TE Chase Coffman (2005-08)

Coffman, a Ray-Pec graduate, caught an MU-record 247 passes during his career, 44 more than anyone else. He caught 30 passes for touchdowns, eight more than anybody else. His 2,659 receiving yards are nearly 500 more than any other tight end and rank third on the Tigers’ all-time list behind Danario Alexander and Justin Gage.

Coffman, who owns the school record with a reception in 45 consecutive games and won the 2008 John Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end, ranks 10th in Big 12 history for receptions and receiving yards. He caught 90 passes for 987 yards with 10 touchdowns — all MU single-season records for a tight end — as a senior.

3. QB Brad Smith (2002-05)

Perhaps no one aside from Pinkel himself is more responsible for the Tigers’ success since 2001 than Smith, who helped Missouri return to prominence as a dual-threat quarterback. Smith was the first college player in history to top 8,000 yards passing and 4,000 yards rushing. His 8,799 passing yards remain second to Chase Daniel, but Smith still owns MU’s all-time record with 4,289 yards rushing — more than 1,000 yards ahead of Zack Abron.

Smith led the Tigers to the first bowl game under Pinkel in 2003 and the first bowl win two years later, orchestrating the largest comeback in Missouri history — a 21-point, first-half deficit against South Carolina in the 2005 Independence Bowl. He had three 200-yard rushing performances and owns MU records for most touchdowns in a game (five), a season (19) and a career (46). Smith started all 48 games in his career and helped the Tigers land Daniel.

2. WR Jeremy Maclin (2007-08)

Maclin is the most prolific playmaker with the ball in hands in Missouri history and he accomplished everything in only two seasons, declaring for the NFL Draft after his redshirt sophomore season. Maclin, who was a consensus All-American in both seasons, owns the MU records for all-purpose yards in a game (360), season (2,833) and career (5,609). His 33 career touchdowns trail only Brad Smith (46), Zack Abron (42) and Corby Jones (38) in Missouri’s annals.

Maclin’s 2,776 all-purpose yards in 2007 rank second in Tigers history by more than 800 yards. No other MU player has totaled more than Murphy’s 1,921 all-purpose yards in a year. Also, Maclin’s 102 catches, 1,260 yards and 13 touchdowns receiving in 2008 are the second-most in a season in program history. Despite playing only two years, Maclin’s career numbers rank second for receiving touchdowns (22), fourth for receiving yards (2,315) and sixth for receptions (182).

1. QB Chase Daniel (2005-08)

It was clear from midway through his freshman season, when Daniel rescued Missouri on the fourth quarter against Iowa State after Brad Smith was injured, that the Tigers had found something special.

Before Daniel’s MU career was finished, he’d rewritten pretty much the entire record book for passing. He completed a record 68 percent of his passes, including an astonishing 72.9 percent as a senior. That includes 20 straight completions against Buffalo, another Missouri record.

Daniel — who threw five touchdowns in four games, both records — owns the single-season (39) and career records (101) for touchdown passes. He also owns season (4,335) and career records (12,515) for passing yards as well as the single game (273.4), single-season (159.4) and career records (148.9) for passing efficiency. Finally, he owns the three most prolific seasons in terms of total offense, including a record 4,616 yards in 2008, as well as the career record (13,485).

As a senior, Daniel threw for at least 200 yards in every game and owns a record 38 200-yard passing games. He threw for at least 300 yards eight times in 2007 and 2007 and owns a record 20 300-yard passing games. His four career 400-yard passing games — two each as a junior and senior — also are a Missouri record. Ten of the 20 best passing games in school history were recorded by Daniel.

Daniel, who attempted more passes (1,609) and completed more passes (1,094) than anyone else in MU history, finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting as a junior.

Others considered: RB Zack Abron, TE Michael Egnew, OL Justin Britt, OL Tony Palmer, K Grant Ressel, WR T.J. Moe, OL Tim Barnes, WR Will Franklin, RB Kendial Lawrence, OL Mitch Morse, OL Evan Boehm, QB Maty Mauk.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @todpalmer.

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