Iron sharpens iron.


That’s how the 2007 Missouri football team remembers becoming one of the best teams in the nation.


The 12-win Tigers, who reached the No. 1 ranking in the nation before playing in the Big 12 Championship game that year, made their lasting mark on Columbia because of their success on the field.


More than a dozen years after that group converged at MU, core members of the team reunited via Zoom for a nearly-two-hour chat broadcast on social media Friday night, reliving the memories they created together while also raising money for the Food Bank of Central & Northeast Missouri.


By the end of the online event, more than $105,000 had been raised, with donations tied to the reunion still being accepted for the next week.


Chase Daniel, the Tigers’ co-captain and Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback, organized the reunion as part of his "Chase Chats" series he started during the coronavirus pandemic.


Other guests Daniel has had on his social media series include Gary Pinkel, Missouri’s head football coach from 2001-15, and current Tigers head coach Eliah Drinkwitz.


As part of the reunion episode, Daniel’s offensive comrades such as Chase Coffman, Jeremy Maclin, Martin Rucker, Tommy Saunders and Tony Temple were on hand. Not to be outdone, the defensive group of Pig Brown, Ziggy Hood, William Moore, Sean Weatherspoon and Lorenzo Williams also were part of the reunion.


Rounding out the dozen participants was longtime Tigers play-by-play commentator Mike Kelly, who co-hosted the event alongside Daniel.


"This is why we voted you captain and you (haven’t) let us down yet," Moore said to Daniel during the chat about his efforts to organize the reunion and fundraiser.


The former Missouri stars discussed how all of their paths crossed, with only Williams and Brown playing high school football outside of Missouri or Texas.


The group also discussed how the whole team unified after past disappointments, adversity and the death of teammate Aaron O’Neal in July 2005 following a voluntary workout during which he collapsed.


"When coach Pinkel and them came in, it was a gut and remodel job," Rucker said. "And so, you had to get rid of some bad apples and you had to get guys in leadership positions that bought into what the coaches wanted to do and their vision for the team. And we all did that. It didn’t matter if we were system men or whatever it was called, we wanted to be winning men."


Only one team stopped the Tigers at all in 2007, Oklahoma, which did so twice. Heading into the season, many in Columbia thought the Tigers would be solid.


Within reach of the national championship? Not so much.


"Before the season, I thought our defense sucked, because we got roasted in practice every day," Williams said. "Little did we know, we were going against the best offense in the country in practice."


That made the Missouri defenders better too, because the talent they saw in practice every day was better than the rosters of most of their competition.


Some of the talent MU was able to contain included Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree, Arkansas’ Darren McFadden and Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh.


All 11 members at the reunion of the 2007 team went on to play in the NFL.


"In the past, we couldn’t let up on practice because we wouldn’t perform on Saturdays," Rucker said. "At that time, we had the talent but we also had the mindset as a team that we still had to take care of business. And so, being fresh for us was OK. That was what we needed."


"We were ready to take that next step. ... We were an NFL-caliber team, but that’s how we felt we needed to be treated — not like an NFL-caliber team, but we needed to let up and that’s how you practice in the NFL. You don’t run your guys into the ground."


It was on the sideline during the Tigers’ 41-10 win over the Red Raiders that Daniel fully understood the pedestal the group could reach, as Brown held Crabtree to 75 receiving yards, a small total for the future top-10 NFL Draft pick who carved apart defenses the rest of the season.


After the first loss to Oklahoma, the Tigers rattled off five straight wins, including their first road victory over Kansas State since 1989, before playing in arguably the most memorable MU football game this century — a matchup against No. 2 Kansas later tabbed as "Armageddon at Arrowhead" in Kansas City.


No. 1 LSU had already been upset earlier in the day by Arkansas, so No. 3 Missouri traveled to the home of the Chiefs to face its archrival in a Border War for the top spot in the country.


In front of more than 80,000 fans, the Tigers took down the Jayhawks 36-28.


"I didn’t really know the magnitude of what was about to happen until we were driving into the stadium and saw the parking lot filled," Maclin said. "And then, when you walk out of the tunnel for the game, to see that stadium, half and half.


"One half of the field you can’t hear anything because they’re booing you. The other half you can’t hear anything because they’re cheering for you. It was crazy. I’ve never been a part of anything like that. Even the next year it wasn’t like that. That was ridiculous."


The 12 participants agreed: Another reunion needs to be planned once restrictions are lifted on social distancing and it is safe to meet.


In the meantime, their impact on each other resonates to this day.


They made a lifelong bond, and on Friday, they teamed up again for a worthy cause.


"Mizzou isn’t Mizzou if you don’t mention these guys on this chat," Brown said. "Me personally, I can go back and do research, but Mizzou isn’t Mizzou without these guys."


eblum@columbiatribune.com