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June 1, 2009

All-Time Tigers: The tight ends

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The start of fall camp is still more than two months away. But leading up to a much-anticipated season, PowerMizzou.com will get Tiger fans in a football frame of mind. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be selecting the all-time Tiger football team.

Each day, we will have a story focusing on one position on the field. PowerMizzou.com will nominate a handful of the best players in Tiger history at that spot. Subscribers will have a chance to vote for their selection at each position. At the end of the series, we will unveil the all-time best according to our subscribers.

Today, we look at the tight ends. Here are our nominees at what may be the most competitive spot on our roster:

Kellen Winslow, 1976-79: Winslow was an all-American at Missouri on teams that played with some of college football's best. He revolutionized the tight end position. Prior to Winslow, tight ends were glorified offensive tackles. In three seasons, he caught 71 passes for 1,089 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and his #83 is retired. But it was after he left Mizzou that Winslow became truly great. A first-round pick (No. 13 overall) of the San Diego Chargers, Winslow became one of the great tight ends in NFL history and is now a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Martin Rucker, 2004-07: A member of the recruiting class that will likely be remembered as the one that turned Mizzou around, Rucker was an all-timer both on the field and in the locker room. The St. Joseph native spurned his brother's alma mater (Nebraska) to revive the tight end tradition in Columbia. A four-year starter, Rucker held the single-season and career record for catches when he left (both have since been broken). His 834 yards were also the best for a Tiger tight end when he graduated. Rucker finished with 203 catches for 2,175 yards and 18 touchdowns, all of which rank second on the career tight ends list at Mizzou. In addition, most around the program credit Rucker as one of the key factors in driving the 2007 Tigers to a No. 1 national ranking and a near national title bid with his leadership on and off the field.

Chase Coffman, 2005-08: Coffman came to Missouri a year after the most statistically prolific tight end in Missouri history. And then he broke every record Rucker set. The Ray-Pec product finished with 247 catches for 2,659 yards and 30 touchdowns. All are records for tight ends, and the catches and touchdowns are Missouri school records regardless of position. But more staggering than the numbers themselves might have been the highlight reel fashion in which Coffman attained them. Any list of the best catches in Tiger history will include multiple contributions from Coffman, who many will say had the best hands of any receiver they have ever seen. And had injuries not hampered his final two seasons, he would have set the bar even higher.

Click here to vote for the best tight end in Tiger history

No one covers Tiger athletics like PowerMizzou.com. To follow the Tigers year-round, sign up today to start your Free Seven-Day Trial.

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