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35 years ago: Tony VanZant is recognized as the top high school football player in the country

35 years ago: Tony VanZant is recognized as the top high school football player in the country

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Tony VanZant

Tony VanZant of Hazelwood Central shreds the SLUH defense for 211 yards in a 1985 game. (Larry Williams - St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

It was 35 years ago that Tony VanZant out of Hazelwood Central was celebrated as the top high school football player in the country.

In its January, 1986, Parade Magazine named him as its annual Player of the Year. 

VanZant was hailed as the savior for Mizzou's football program. 

“Like Paul Christman before him, Tony VanZant could make the highways seem shorter again to Columbia from St. Louis, Kansas City and other points on the state compass,” the Post-Dispatch’s Bob Broeg wrote. “A breakaway back could do wonders at the gate.”

Alas, VanZant tore up his knee in a a high-school all-star game before his Mizzou career. He lost all his explosiveness and was never the same.  

For his college career, he carried the ball 51 times for 203 yards and one touchdown.

Here's a look back at how Parade Magazine celeberated VanZant on Jan. 12, 1986.

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