Gahn McGaffie cannot help but smile. He is watching video of his 21-year-old self moving around in football pads.
He is nearly disconnected from the sport he played in college. He is a certified teacher and is looking for jobs overseas. McGaffie says he wants to teach English.
But this Mid-September day is an exception. He wore a Mizzou polo and the Big 12 North ring to lunch, as he recalls one of the most revered plays in MU Football History.
Five years ago, McGaffie took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown against No. 1 Oklahoma. At the time, Gary Pinkel had never beaten Oklahoma. Mizzou, until that point, had never upset the top ranked team in college football. Ever.
“That atmosphere around that game was the best in Mizzou history,” McGaffie said at a Houston restaurant. “All the way from the preparation to take on Oklahoma to everything that was going on campus with College Gameday.”
It was also the 99th Homecoming at the University of Missouri, the birthplace of the tradition.
The 2010 Mizzou team featured a number of playmakers. But McGaffie was far down the depth chart. The wide receiver was not a name that jumped out on the roster. He saw the field in 2010 because of his special teams skills. He would block for return man Marcus Murphy.
“I actually got that position because another man got hurt,” McGaffie said, as he looks at the kick return formation on the opening kickoff. “My initial job was to just block and help [Marcus Murphy].
Just after 7 p.m. on October 23, 2010, his responsibilities changed quickly.
Oklahoma kicker Patrick O’Hara sent the ball into the crisp fall air. It went to the upman. McGaffie, who returned kicks for Galena Park High School in Texas, would get his chance in Missouri’s biggest game of the season.
“Every time I talk about this play I always give props to the team as far as kickoff return team because it was great blocks and everything.” McGaffie said. “I always give props to my team and my best friend Robert Steeples because when I hit that hole, he was the one that blocked off the two defenders.”
McGaffie went to his right to bait the Oklahoma coverage team. He then cut back, where Steeples had a crease waiting in front of him. The redshirt sophomore hit the hole. He was gone. Mizzou got off to an electrifying start against the program that made a living off beating up on the Tigers. Missouri beat Oklahoma 36-27, giving Mizzou its win against the top ranked team in the BCS standings.
“20-30 minutes before we left for the stadium, I would kick back in our room,” McGaffie recalls. “I would visualize myself making a big play for the game. So when they kicked off the ball and it came to me, I am thinking in my head, ‘Is this really happening? Because if it isn’t, poke me and wake me up and take me out of this dream.'”
As McGaffie moves the cursor with the finger that supports his Big 12 North ring, he breaks down one of the most revered plays in Mizzou history—perhaps his only moment in the spotlight.
“When the hole opened I knew I had to hit it because after I hit it, I thought, ‘Don’t get caught by the kicker because the team will clown you!’ he laughed. “So when I got out, the whole time, I am like in Little Giants, ‘I’m gonna score a touchdown! I’m gonna score a touchdown!’ I was thinking, ‘Don’t get hit by the kicker. Don’t get hit by the kicker.’
He avoided the kicker and jogged into the endzone. That was the only time McGaffie got past the goal line. He finished his Missouri career with 42 catches for 324 yards.
“Definitely could have done coaching after college,” McGaffie said. “Being a part of football your whole life, sometimes you need to get away from that. That was the big thing for me.”
The former wide receiver said he had an offer to coach in his old high school’s district. But he wanted to live a life not consumed by the sports he played in college.
McGaffie adds he is fine with that being his only notable moment in his time with Missouri.
“I did what I needed to do at Mizzou. I got my degree. I made my mark. That’s what I came here to Mizzou to do.”