Today we crossed paths with a high school football legend.
Now a non-descript assistant football coach for the Lincoln University Blue Tigers in Jefferson City, MO, Tony Van Zant helped us unload gear destined for Wednesday’s opening day of practice. Thirty years ago he was the consensus choice for the best high school football player in the United States. Many old timers claim to this day he is the best the Show-Me State has ever produced; hard to argue with 6,138 yards rushing and 91 career touchdowns.
“Touchdown Tony” led Hazelwood Central High School to the 1985 large school Missouri state championship. The whole state rejoiced when he cast his lot with the Missouri Tigers. A last minute fateful decision, made against the wishes of the Mizzou coaches, to play in a late summer all-star game just weeks before beginning his college career cost TVZ both his right knee and his gift. Subsequently, he limped through a pedestrian five year college career- 252 yards and one touchdown, total.
Ironically, the injury occurred on the field of Lincoln University’s Reed Stadium, less than a football’s throw from where we unloaded boxes on a sultry August afternoon.
Tony Van Zant, Missouri version of the Best That Never Was.