Blog Entry

From TVZ to DGB, Mizzou makes history

Posted on: February 1, 2012 11:38 am
Edited on: February 1, 2012 12:09 pm

Somewhere Tony Van Zant is shedding a tear.

Until Dorial Green-Beckham signed with Missouri on Wednesday the landing of Van Zant, the Hazelwood (Mo.) Central tailback, was the signature recruiting moment for Tiger fans. Back in 1985, Van Zant was at least the top-rated running back in the country, if not the No. 1 overall prospect. Mizzou and its followers attached their hopes and dreams to the shifty kid from suburban St. Louis.

To say that Van Zant was a bust is an insult to the noun. He was supposed to be the foundation for “Woody’s Wagon,” the name given to the momentum created by hiring former Steelers defensive coordinator Woody Widenhofer. Van Zant injured a knee playing in a state high-school all-star game after his senior season. That caused him to miss his entire freshman season at Mizzou in 1986. Later, he injured the other knee. For his career Van Zant ran for a grand total of 214 yards.

Woody’s Wagon ran off the road. Widenhofer was fired after four seasons. Today, Van Zant is a high school coach in Saginaw, Mich. On Wednesday, Green-Beckham, the nation’s No. 1 recruit, inherited part of Van Zant’s legacy when he signed with the Tigers.

There can be a direct line drawn between Van Zant and Green-Beckham. They were both high school All-Americans. Both were Parade Magazine’s national player of the year. Both were known by their initials in the recruiting process – TVZ and DGB. Both were national recruits who stayed home. So which one is he, this DGB?

Is he Dishon Platt or Fred Rouse or is he Percy Harvin or Derrick Williams? Will he ever finish in the top 10 in receiving during his career? checked the number of receivers ranked in the top 20 among national recruits in the last 10 years (according to The idea was to determine how valuable highly-rated high school receivers were to teams and how they panned out.

From a group of 200 recruits over those 10 years, only 27 were receivers. That’s 13.5 percent. Of those 27, 14 played on at least one conference-winning team. Seven of those 14 played on at least one national championship team. Only two of those 27 ever finished in the top 10 nationally in receiving yards per game since 2002. (Tennessee’s Robert Meachem in 2006 and USC’s Robert Woods in 2011.)

So which one is Green-Beckham? He was only the third receiver in the last 10 years to be rated No. 1 overall. The other two were Florida’s Harvin (2006) and Penn State’s Williams (2005). Harvin was part of two national championship teams and has had a productive NFL career. Williams was one of the most versatile players in Penn State history becoming the only Joe Paterno player to ever catch, run and return a kick for a touchdown.

Is this a snapshot of Green-Beckham’s career?

Over the last 10 years, the receiver position is tied with running back (27 each) as the second-most abundant position in the top 20. Defensive line is No. 1 (41 players). Going into Wednesday, only 14 schools in the last 10 years have taken top 20-rated receivers. There are the usual suspects – USC leads all with seven in the top 20.

Then there are the all-out busts. Florida State had two of the biggest at the position in the last 10 years. In 2002, Platt was the No. 16 player in the country. He never made it academically at FSU, transferred to South Florida then faded into obscurity.  In 2005, receivers ruled. Williams and USC’s Patrick Turner were the top two rated players in the country. There were four wideouts in the top 18 including Cal’s DeSean Jackson.

The fourth wideout in that group, Rouse, went from playing in the Orange Bowl for FSU to transferring to Texas El-Paso to spending a couple of months in jail to Concordia College-Selma.

So which one is DGB? For now the foundation of Missouri’s jump to the SEC. Gary Pinkel’s offense has had stars of several wideouts over the past decades (examples: Jeremy Maclin, Danario Alexander). But that was in the wide-open Big 12.

If he never catches a ball, Green-Beckham, like Van Zant, has created momentum for Mizzou. Perhaps other players will follow. Perhaps he will be a game breaker. But SEC defenses are tougher. That doesn’t suggest he won’t succeed. Green-Beckham is the third nationally top-rated receiver to sign with an SEC school since 2008. The other two guys didn’t do too bad – Alabama’s Julio Jones (No. 4 overall in 2008) and LSU’s Rueben Randle (No. 2 overall in 2009).

Somewhere Van Zant is shedding a tear because of a career derailed -- and maybe because DGB has a chance to be the TVZ that never was.   


Since: Mar 19, 2012
Posted on: March 19, 2012 6:31 pm

From TVZ to DGB, Mizzou makes history

Just wanted to correct a few things.  A little research would tell you that Tony Van Zant is the running backs coach at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO.  TVZ was the number 1 player according to Parade.  Also, you said to call TVZ a "bust is an insult to the noun".  Perhaps I misunderstand the term "bust".  It seems to me that a bust is a person who is found out to not have the ability to play.  According to your use of the term a bust is someone who doesn't produce the type of output expected no matter what the reason.  I guess that makes Len Bias and Drazen Petrovic "busts" since their untimely deaths prevented them from reaching their full potential.  TVZ suffered an ACL tear, which you refer to as a "knee injury". In 1985 that injury often meant the end of a career.  He later suffered another ACL tear of the other knee, which almost certainly meant the end of a career in 1985.  He was completely robbed of his speed and cutting ability, which is what got him all of those yards in high school and made him the number one recruit.  If you remember, at that time the recovery period for an ACL tear was AT LEAST a year.  TVZ ended up being granted a second redshirt season, so he was at Mizzou for six years.  Since he was no longer fast or agile, he was moved to fullback and thus his lack of production.  He could have packed his toys and gone home and avoided a whole lot of criticism from the uninformed....hmmm.  Instead he decided to show some character and tough it out.

Injuries are something that cannot be predicted and at least by my definition, do not cause a player to be a "bust".  For example, Sam Bowie, who is often incorrectly termed a bust, broke his leg---twice and still managed to play in the NBA for 11 years.
Perhaps it's just me, but it really grates on me when the term "bust" is applied to people who suffer catastrophic injuries, or worse. Let's just hope that the new recruit, DGB, remains healthy and can be judged on things he at least has some control over, like heart and work ethic. To call TVZ a bust is not an insult to the noun; it is a misuse of the term.

Since: Oct 14, 2011
Posted on: February 3, 2012 7:49 pm

From TVZ to DGB, Mizzou makes history

Congrats to Mizzou for landing DGB, I hope he does well.  He is a good kid.  Razorbacks will have to play without him.  Usually things like this turn out for the best for all.  Lets see next year....

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2012 4:30 pm

From TVZ to DGB, Mizzou makes history

I wonder if MU's move to the SEC will in the long run hurt several nearby Big 10 programs, namely Iowa (M. McNutt, for example); Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois who have recruited the St Louis/ESL area for many years. 
I really doubt it, Iowa recruited a couple kids here in St Louis this year, but the ones they recruited ended up at Illinois and I believe Michigan State.  Missouri alreday does well in St Louis so the fact that they are in the SEC now is not going to change much.  I think the impact for recruits may be felt more in the Kansas City area and seeing kids there change their minds than St Louis. 

St Louis kids do not necessarily feel loyal to any one conference or school.  The Post Dispatch top 30 had a variety of schools for a lot of the kids in the metro area.  Bottom line, you can't just say oh look we are in the SEC, most kids aren't impressed with that anymore.

Since: Apr 6, 2011
Posted on: February 1, 2012 9:57 pm

From TVZ to DGB, Mizzou makes history

My bad. It only took one sentance.

Since: Apr 6, 2011
Posted on: February 1, 2012 9:56 pm

From TVZ to DGB, Mizzou makes history

LOL- For every 99 times I scroll down to find nothing but knuckle dragging dipsh*t statements in the comment bar, there's that one comment which makes it worth my while. Well done, Esoj1211! What a tremendously relevant statement. Within three sentances, you've accomplished something that usually takes G.Doyel six articles to create: Something worth reading. 

Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: February 1, 2012 12:34 pm

From TVZ to DGB, Mizzou makes history

I wonder if MU's move to the SEC will in the long run hurt several nearby Big 10 programs, namely Iowa (M. McNutt, for example); Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois who have recruited the St Louis/ESL area for many years.  

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