Former Missouri Tiger stars Justin Smith in football and Ian Kinsler in baseball headline the 2012 Class for the Mizzou Athletics Hall of Fame. The class will be formally inducted Friday, February 1st, 2013 in an evening banquet and celebration to be held at the Courtyard by Marriott in Columbia.
Here is a look at this year’s inductees, with more extensive biographical information to follow:
CLASS OF 2012
Ian Kinsler – Baseball (2003)
Although he played only one season at Mizzou, Tiger Head Coach Tim Jamieson credits him with being a key figure in helping turn the program around, as he was instrumental in leading Mizzou back to the NCAA Tournament in 2003, after a six-year drought. That 2003 NCAA appearance started a string of seven-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the Tiger program. After transferring to Mizzou from Arizona State and junior college, Kinsler batted .335 for Mizzou in 2003, and was third on the team with six home runs and 45 RBI. He also went 16-of-17 in stolen bases during the season, and was named 2nd-Team All-Big 12 for his efforts.
Of course, most people know Kinsler for his outstanding professional baseball career. After being drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2003, Kinsler made the big league squad in 2006, and promptly won the Rangers’ Rookie of the Year award for hitting .286 with 14 homers and 55 RBI. He has since made three American League All-Star teams (2008, 2010, 2012), and hit a career-best .319 in 2008, while he followed that with a career-high 31 homers and 86 RBI in 2009.
Christi Myers – Volleyball/Track & Field (1999-03)
Was one of the central figures in the establishment of Mizzou’s volleyball program as one of national prominence, as she became MU’s first-ever AVCA All-American, attaining 3rd-Team status in 2002. She still stands as Mizzou’s career record holder in blocks (454) and she is third alltime at MU in hitting percentage (.322) and fourth in kills (1,476).
But volleyball wasn’t Myers’ only athletic avocation, as she also doubled as a high jumper for the Tiger Track & Field team. She was quite successful, too, becoming only the third female in Mizzou history to clear the six-foot mark, and she was a three-time All-Big 12 performer, highlighted by placing second in 2001 and third in 2002.
Justin Smith – Football (1998-2000)
Perhaps the most well-known name among this year’s inductees, “Smitty” wreaked havoc on opposing teams’ offenses in a three-year career under former Coach Larry Smith which saw him establish himself as one of the top defensive linemen in Mizzou history. Smith won 1st-Team All-American honors as a junior in 2000, before bypassing his final year of eligibility and entering the 2001 NFL Draft. He was drafted fourth overall by Cincinnati, tying him for the highest draft pick ever in Mizzou history.
At Mizzou, Smith won Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors in 1998 when he totaled 86 tackles, a team-best 13 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, while making 11 starts as a true freshman. He also received freshman All-American honors from several national outlets. As a sophomore, Smith was a 1st-Team All-Big 12 selection in 1999 when he made 92 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He followed with a monster junior season which included 97 tackles and school-record tackles for loss (24) and sacks (11) totals. He won 1st-Team All-American honors and was a unanimous 1st-Team all-conference selection.
Smith has since gone on to an outstanding pro career, and he is currently playing for the San Francisco 49ers (alongside fellow Mizzou Tiger Aldon Smith), where he earned All-Pro honors in 2011. He was selected to three-consecutive Pro Bowls (2009-11), and he came in second in balloting for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2011 after his outstanding season. Previously, he broke the Cincinnati Bengals’ rookie sacks record in 2001, when he had 8.5 sacks. Perhaps most impressively, Smith has not missed a single game in his NFL career, and has started 182 consecutive games, which ranks as 5th-best currently in the league.
James Taylor – Football (1975-77)
James Taylor came to Mizzou from Peoria, Ill., and he developed into one of MU’s most feared and punishing offensive linemen of his time. He was a major factor in helping Mizzou to some of its biggest wins in history, including a 20-7 win at 2nd-ranked Alabama in 1975, a 46-25 win at 8th-ranked USC in 1976, a 22-21 win at 2nd-ranked Ohio State in 1976 and a 34-24 win at 3rd-ranked Nebraska in 1976.
Taylor won 1st-Team All-Big Eight Conference honors for his stellar play as a senior in 1977, and was selected to play in the prestigious Blue and Gray Classic, as well as the Senior Bowl, in 1978. He went on to become a 2nd-round pick in the 1978 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints, and he had a solid professional playing career. Taylor was a starter for the Saints, and played in 57 games overall for the franchise, from 1978-81.
Helen Wilson – Women’s Tennis (1980-82)
One of the top individual talents in Mizzou women’s tennis history, who played in the early days of the program, which began officially as a varsity sport for the 1974-75 season. Wilson becomes the first women’s tennis player to be inducted into the Mizzou Athletics Hall of Fame. She was the team’s top player for two seasons, and was the No. 2 singles player as a freshman. Mizzou dropped women’s tennis as a varsity sport prior to her senior year, which forced her to transfer to Oklahoma, where she finished up her degree work and played for one year.
Even with that, Wilson still considers Mizzou to be her alma mater, and she has been very involved with the Tiger tennis program. She currently resides in the Kansas City area and is the Director of Tennis at the Kansas City Country Club.
Despite having a junior season cut short by injury, in a little more than just two full seasons, Wilson still stands fifth on the alltime career singles wins list at Mizzou, with a career record of 73-34. She went 31-13 as a freshman, when she helped guide the Tigers to a 17-10-1 team record and a fourth-place finish at the Big Eight Championships. Wilson placed third at the subsequent Region VI Championship tournament, and that qualified for nationals. She followed that with a 32-13 record as a sophomore, earning All-Region honors in 1981. Her 32 wins that year rank as the 3rd-most in MU single-season history. Also a standout doubles player, Wilson had a doubles career mark of 51-22, and that stands as the 9th-most career doubles wins in MU history.
The Hall’s constitution and bylaws express its purpose – “…to recognize and honor those individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the achievements and prestige of the University of Missouri in the field of athletics, and who have continued to demonstrate in their lives, the values imparted by intercollegiate athletics.”
The current class will up the membership to 186 individuals and four teams in the Hall of Fame. Inductees are honored in a display located in the main entrance at Mizzou Arena.