Mizzou Tigers In The NFL
Mizzou has recently turned out some high-caliber NFL players. There are currently thirteen former Tigers suiting up for NFL teams, including three players that were drafted in the first round since 2009.
From 2002 to 2005, Brad Smith started every game for Mizzou and set 68 different MU, Big 12 and NCAA game, season and career records. He was the first player to pass for 8,000 yards and run for 4,000 yards in career and the first player to pass for 2,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in a season twice in a career.
He was drafted by the New York Jets in the fourth round (103rd overall) in the 2006 NFL draft. Smith has since been used in several different situations. He’s taken snaps as a quarterback, running back, wide receiver and has become a standout on special teams. Smith has become one of the most versatile players in the NFL, having scored touchdowns on a kick return, caught a touchdown pass, rushed for a touchdown and thrown a touchdown pass. Smith has become the catalyst for the Jets Wildcat formation, causing matchup problems for defense due to his ability to run or throw the football.
Jeremy Maclin was another record-setting player at Mizzou, setting the NCAA mark for most all-purpose yards in a season as a freshman with 2,776 returning, rushing and receiving yards. He was named an All-American in both 2007 and 2008 and entered the draft as a top prospect.
He fell further than expected on draft day but was eventually drafted in the first round (19th overall) by the Philadelphia Eagles. He made his first start three weeks into his rookie season and scored his first two touchdowns a month later against the Buccaneers. At the end of his rookie season, he became the youngest player (21 years, 243 days) to score a touchdown in the playoffs when he turned a bubble screen into a 76-yard score. In 2010, Maclin has caught four touchdowns in four games and is establishing himself as a dangerous deep threat for whoever takes snaps for the Eagles.
Sean Weatherspoon was one of four true freshman to see game-action for Mizzou in 2006, as he saw playing time in all 13 games. He was named the starter in 2007, led the team in tackles with 130 and was named to the All Big-12 first team. The 155 tackles he would amass in 2008 were the second-most in Mizzou history and he would go on to be named the Alamo Bowl’s Defensive MVP. He returned for his senior season and tried unsuccessfully to persuade Jeremy Maclin to do the same.
Weatherspoon declared for the 2010 NFL draft (after graduating with me in 2009) and was selected in the first round (19th overall, just like Maclin) by the Atlanta Falcons. He won a starting job in training camp and recorded his first career sack in his second ever game, dropping Arizona’s Derek Anderson for a nine-yard loss. My favorite part of the sack is his Spoon Dance afterwards.
William Moore struggled with injuries throughout his career at Mizzou, but was tremendous when he was on the field. Despite the missed time, he finished his college career with 284 tackles, 11 interceptions, three sacks, and a school record four interception return touchdowns. As a junior, his 117 tackles and school record eight interceptions earned his All-American and All-Big 12 honors.
Moore was drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons and made only two tackles while playing in just two games during his rookie season, missing most of it due to injury. He has earned a starting job in Week 2 for the Falcons in 2010 and has appeared in three games this season for the Dirty Birds, recording 12 tackles, two pass breakups and forcing a fumble. He recorded his first career interception against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2 and added his second two weeks later against the San Francisco 49ers.
After a prolific career at Mizzou that returned the school to a national prominence, Chase Daniel went undrafted in the 2009 draft, but signed on with the Washington Redskins. He was cut a few weeks later and signed on with the New Orleans Saints. He bounced back and forth between the practice squad and the active roster, and was released and re-signed on two separate occasions. He never saw the field in 2009, but was a part of a Super Bowl season and was named the emergency quarterback for two games.
Daniel battled with Patrick Ramsey for the Saints backup quarterback job going into the 2010 season and won the right to back up MVP candidate Drew Brees. Daniel logged his first official NFL minutes this past Sunday in a win over the Carolina Panthers, serving as the holder for extra points. I expect that he’ll eventually see some game-action as a quarterback sometime this season during garbage time.
Ziggy Hood is perhaps the forgotten first-round pick from Mizzou, taken 32nd overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2009 NFL draft. Hood enjoyed a successful collegiate career before entering the NFL, where he has become a rotational defensive lineman. He recorded his first career sack and his first career fumble recovery against Baltimore in December of 2009.
Justin Gage was drafted in the 5th round of the 2003 NFL draft by the Bears and has enjoyed some solid seasons with the Tennessee Titans, leading them in receiving yards in 2007. Chase Coffman was drafted in the 3rd round by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009. He spent most of the year injured and was released and re-signed to the practice squad. Martin Rucker was drafted in the fourth round by the Cleveland Browns in 2008 but was released nearly a year later without ever seeing the field. He signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009 and was promoted to the active roster on December 15. After he was released, he signed with the Dallas Cowboys and is currently on their practice squad.
Atiyyah Ellison (3rd round, Carolina) and CJ Mosley (6th round, Minnesota) were both drafted in 2005 and have spent their NFL careers bouncing around from team to team. Mosley is currently a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars while Ellison remains unsigned. Offensive lineman Colin Brown was drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 draft by Kansas City.
Justin Smith was the fourth overall pick in the 2001 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals and is the longest tenured Mizzou Tiger in the NFL. Smith holds the Mizzou record for most sacks in a season (11) and most tackles for loss in a season (24). In 1998, he became the first true freshman since 1986 to start every game for Missouri and was named as an All-American in 2000.
Since becoming a starter in his rookie season, Smith has missed only four games in the NFL. He recorded 8.5 sacks in his rookie season, setting a Bengals rookie-record. In 2008 he signed a lucrative free-agent contract with the San Francisco 49ers that included an $11 million signing bonus. Of the Mizzou Tigers drafted within the past ten years, Smith has enjoyed the most success—including a 2010 Pro Bowl appearance.
BRAD SMITH’S FIRST CAREER TOUCHDOWN PASS
SEAN WEATHERSPOON’S FIRST CAREER SACK
JEREMY MACLIN SCORES TWO TOUCHDOWNS