Before the running and passing show of Brad Smith, before the Columbia clout of Chase Patton, there was Corby Jones.
And Friday, Jones stood before family, friends and alumni as one of six inductees to the University of Missouri Hall of Fame.
“You see the names up on the other plaques that are in Hearnes (Center) right now, it means a lot,” Jones said. “It hasn’t really set in yet, but when it does, I’m sure it will be extremely overwhelming.”
A Columbia native who went on from Hickman High to become a star quarterback at Missouri, Jones played at the peak of Larry Smith’s tenure as Missouri coach. Jones led the Tigers to two bowl games, including a win against West Virginia in the 1998 Insight.com Bowl.
“The camaraderie with my teammates, that’s all I look at,” Jones said. “Yeah, sure we won some games, and we lost some games we should have won, but you can’t look at records.”
Jones, who was as good of a runner as a passer, set many Missouri season and career records, all of which either Zack Abron or Smith have been surpassed. Jones finished his career with 3,697 passing yards with 26 touchdowns and 18 interceptions to go with 2,533 rushing yards. With his career behind him, Jones doesn’t mind Smith surpassing his numbers.
“That’s the point, isn’t it?” Jones said. “If they weren’t winning, he wouldn’t be taking them. That’s part of the game.”
After an stints in the Canadian Football League and arena football, Jones went to law school at MU, and he will graduate in May.
Softball player Mary Babb-Sundall, swimmer Kevin Deforrest, basketball player Al Eberhard, hurdler and sprinter Albert Lane and football player Bruce Van Dyke also were inducted at the ceremony at the Holiday Inn Select.
Babb-Sundall started as a walk-on for the softball team in 1994, but she quickly showed to be much more than a spare part. She was an All-American her senior year, the same year she led the team to its only Big 12 Conference Tournament title.
“It’s a shock,” Babb-Sundall said. “I just didn’t expect it whatsoever. When I got the call, I said, ‘Are you sure?’
Deforrest, Missouri’s first male All-American swimmer, finished fourth in the 50-yard freestyle at the 1979 NCAA Championships. In that meet, he scored all of Missouri’s points, vaulting the Tigers to 20th. He is the first male swimmer inducted into the Hall.
“It’s obviously a great honor,” Deforrest said. “It’s kind of humbling. I mean, there’s been a lot of great athletes here at Missouri, so it makes me feel pretty good.”
Deforrest won eight individual Big Eight Conference titles and also had six conference relay titles. His Big Eight records in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle stood until 1994.
“I owe a great debt of gratitude to the people that allowed me to do all those things,” he said. “I don’t remember much about individual races or anything like that. Awards were never that big of a deal.
“The other thing is I had a ton of fun when I was here, so I remember that.”
Deforrest is having fun these days as a part of a bluegrass band that plays around the country, which he started after 20 years of coaching swimming.
Eberhard was a big part of Norm Stewart’s teams in the early 1970s, especially his senior year in 1974, when he averaged 19.7 points and 12 rebounds, which stands as the fourth-best rebounding average in MU history. He played four years with the Detroit Pistons after leaving Missouri.
“It’s really and honor and humbling to be in a group like this,” Eberhard said. “I love the University of Missouri, and I enjoyed playing here.”
Eberhard has stayed with Missouri since, working for a while in the athletic department and then going on as a development officer in the MU School of Business.
Lane was a four-time All-American for Missouri in hurdles, and he won the national championship in the 110-meter hurdles in 1984. He holds the MU indoor 55-meter hurdle record (13.61 seconds).
Van Dyke made his name as a two-way starter on the offensive and defensive line from 1963-65. In his senior year he was an All-Big Eight selection, and he was a captain that year for the Tigers, who finished sixth in the country.