Super Mario

1 decade 6 months 1 week ago Monday, November 12 2007 Nov 12, 2007 Monday, November 12, 2007 1:59:20 AM CST November 12, 2007 in Sports

Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football programs and when Gary Pinkel took the job at Missouri back in 2000, he promised to keep Missouri's top prep players in state. Early in his tenure, Tiger fans had their doubts, but then a super-recruit from southeast Missouri jumped on the Tiger bandwagon. They called him "Super Mario."

In Jackson, Missouri, high school football is a little different. In the town of 12,000, it is not uncommon to see more than 6,000 fans fill up the stands at Jackson High School Stadium.

"It's just like that town in 'Varsity Blues' because basically the whole town shuts down on Friday night," said Mario Whitney, former Jackson running back.

The stadium is called "the pit" and on Friday nights, high school heroes are made, but one stands above the rest: Super Mario.

"Mario Whitney didn't run, he glided through people," said Stu Garrison, a Jackson fan.

"It's the first time we've ever seen world-class speed in Jackson, Missouri," said Dan Stover, Jackson PA announcer.

"He did some things that were pretty much super-human," said Carl Gross, a Jackson coach.

"There was nothing he couldn't do on the football field," Garrison said.

"Wow...it was unbelievable," Gross said.

"He was no doubt the best I've ever seen in high school," Stover said.

Touchdown runs from 1999 through 2001 made Mario Whitney a national recruit.

Carl Gross coached Whitney at Jackson and he stills roams the Indians sidelines. He said tackling Mario was like trying to tackle smoke.

Mario averaged more than nine yards per career in his career, still a Missouri high school record. In his senior year, he rushed for more than 2,700 yards and 43 touchdowns, including 463 yards in one game.

"And I got all-state. And USA Today named me Missouri's player to watch. So I thought maybe I can make a run at this and go somewhere with it," Whitney said.

"Physically, there's no doubt about it. He was a terrific player. He won the 100 meters and 200 meters at the state track meet his senior year, set a state record in the 200. He had just unbelievable strength and speed," Gross said.

Mario led the Indians to conference and district titles in 1999 and 2001. For those performances he received a lot of attention from the big names in college football. Tennessee, Florida and Michigan all offered Mario scholarships, but he decided to take a chance on Gary Pinkel's Missouri Tigers.

"They said they were going to build the program around me, which to any 18-year-old kid sounds really good. It will make you want to go to school there," Whitney said.

The Missouri coaching staff knew they were getting a special player.

"One of his goals was to win the Heisman trophy. That's what he said to me. For one, I thought he was talented enough to do that and he would have to work really hard to achieve that. But that really stood out to me as to what his goals were in life," Missouri running backs coach Brian Jones said.

So if the Missouri coaching staff thought Mario Whitney had all the tools to win the Heisman trophy, why isn't his name all over the Tiger football record book? Find out next week in the final part of "Super Mario."

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA – The Columbia City Council will address an ordinance Monday on whether to approve of a special August election... More >>
3 hours ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 2:41:00 AM CDT May 21, 2018 in News
MARSHALL - A standoff between Marshall police and an armed man ended without injury. According to a news release,... More >>
8 hours ago Sunday, May 20 2018 May 20, 2018 Sunday, May 20, 2018 9:53:00 PM CDT May 20, 2018 in News
ROCHEPORT - The city of Rocheport honored two men on Sunday whose legacy has stretched across the state of Missouri.... More >>
11 hours ago Sunday, May 20 2018 May 20, 2018 Sunday, May 20, 2018 7:09:00 PM CDT May 20, 2018 in News
AUXVASSE - Gov. Eric Greitens spoke at the 16th annual Fire Fighters Memorial Service on Sunday. The service was... More >>
14 hours ago Sunday, May 20 2018 May 20, 2018 Sunday, May 20, 2018 4:05:00 PM CDT May 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri State Highway Patrol is taking to social media to spread awareness of National Safe Boating Week... More >>
14 hours ago Sunday, May 20 2018 May 20, 2018 Sunday, May 20, 2018 3:36:00 PM CDT May 20, 2018 in News
FULTON - All 6-year-old Sam Santhuff wanted to do was comfort children in the hospital, even though he was there... More >>
23 hours ago Sunday, May 20 2018 May 20, 2018 Sunday, May 20, 2018 6:47:00 AM CDT May 20, 2018 in News
CAMDEN COUNTY - The Missouri State Highway Patrol has released the identities of the three people killed and the two... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 6:42:00 PM CDT May 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Children in Columbia have a chance to get paid to play. Columbia Parks and Recreation started its... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 6:10:00 PM CDT May 19, 2018 in News
HAVANA (AP) — The Latest on the crash in Cuba of a passenger jet with 113 people on board (all... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 5:23:00 PM CDT May 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Over 90 people showed up at the Burr Oak Brewery for an afternoon of puppies, yoga and beer... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 4:50:00 PM CDT May 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Although it is nowhere near Halloween, some Columbia runners faced their fears by participating in a zombie-themed 5K... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 11:12:00 AM CDT May 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- The city of Columbia has been ranked a top-ten affordable college town to live in by realtor.com. Factors... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 10:41:00 AM CDT May 19, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Mississippi River is above flood stage at several northeast Missouri locations, but forecasters do... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 9:29:44 AM CDT May 19, 2018 in Continuous News
(CNN) -- And they're married! Britain's Prince Harry and US actress Meghan Markle were wed Saturday at Windsor... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 7:09:00 AM CDT May 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- The United states is experiencing one of the lowest birth rates in 30 years, according to the Centers for... More >>
2 days ago Friday, May 18 2018 May 18, 2018 Friday, May 18, 2018 9:08:00 PM CDT May 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Attorney General Josh Hawley says attorneys helping Gov. Eric Greitens through impeachment proceedings are acting improperly. "By... More >>
2 days ago Friday, May 18 2018 May 18, 2018 Friday, May 18, 2018 8:34:00 PM CDT May 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The annual Backyard Concert Series kicks off Saturday evening at the Jefferson Landing Historic site. Missouri... More >>
2 days ago Friday, May 18 2018 May 18, 2018 Friday, May 18, 2018 6:45:00 PM CDT May 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY –Missourians will soon be able to keep a little more money from their paychecks, after a state House... More >>
2 days ago Friday, May 18 2018 May 18, 2018 Friday, May 18, 2018 6:33:00 PM CDT May 18, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 65°
7am 65°
8am 66°
9am 69°
10am 71°