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October 23, 2008
A Shining Star
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These have not been good times for the Missouri Tigers. But through two tough losses, there has been one shining bright spot. Senior tight end Chase Coffman has not only been good; he has been phenomenal.
In two Tiger losses, Coffman has caught 23 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown. That is one-third of the team's total receptions and 34.5% of the total yardage.
"He's twice as good a player as he was last year," Chase Daniel said. "And he was a pretty good player last year."
While the Tiger team has struggled, Coffman has taken his game to another level.
"We play less two tight end sets now that Martin Rucker's gone," Gary Pinkel said. "What's happened is Chase has been highlighted more and is actually getting more reps on the field because of Martin's absence. He's playing at a higher level than he's ever played and that's certainly encouraging."
Coffman is second in the Big 12 and sixth in the country with eight receptions a game. He is fourth and 14th, respectively, in receiving yards at 99.14 per game. He has put an assault on the Missouri receiving record book. Coffman already owns the career records for receptions (213) and touchdowns (24). With 339 more yards, he will pass Justin Gage as the all-time leader in receiving yards. And his individual highlight reel is added to every week. Everyone seems to have their favorite moment, and most of them don't even involve his patented hurdle of a defender, which has become a weekly staple.
"He's made some amazing catches," Daniel said before picking out one grab against Nebraska. "The ball was tipped, I think, and he was somehow able to contort his body in a place I've never seen a body to catch the ball."
The coach's favorite came on the opening series against Oklahoma State. Coffman was being interfered with as Daniel rifled a ball his way on the sideline.
"One of the greatest catches I've ever seen in my life. Never seen anything like it," Pinkel said. "Guy falling backwards and taking the ball out of the air with one hand. He looked like Superman. Honestly, it was probably the greatest catch I've ever seen."
Daniel has certainly appreciated the contributions his tight end has made over the last four seasons. The duo will go down as the greatest pass-catch combination in Tiger history. No one else is close. More than 22% of Daniel's record-setting passing yards have come on completions to Coffman. More than a quarter of his school-record 80 touchdowns have ended up in Coffman's hands. It is a relationship that began more than four years ago, before either player had even signed with Missouri out of high school.
"He was on the phone with a couple of guys actually on my official visit," Coffman recalled. "I think that's one of the things that gets a lot of great players at the programs that they're at. You've got one guy that is a pretty good prospect or recruit going to that school and he's just harping on the rest of them to come to that school."
"I didn't bug him too consistently," Daniel said. "I knew he was currently committed here and I know he had some other options and things like that."
The chemistry continued when both hit campus for summer workouts in June of 2004.
"He's a great friend. Right when he got here, we just kind of hit it off playing video games, watching movies, doing whatever together," Coffman said. "That's just one of those things where quarterback, receiver, tight end, whatever it is, you're spending a lot of time together. Running plays, looking at different formations that the defense is running, so you kind of get a good idea of what the other person's going to do."
Perhaps the only chink in Coffman's armor comes up when he is asked to talk. He has never been the most eager to do an interview or to make his voice heard.
"I've tried to work on it a little bit, just talking a little bit," Coffman admits. "I try to lead more by example."
It is an example his Tiger teammates would be smart to follow.
"Amazing guy," Pinkel says. "How privileged we are to have a guy like that on our team."
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