Benedictine College Names Tabor Outstanding Young Alumnus

  • Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., has announced that Chris Tabor, Class of 1993 and the recently hired Special Teams Coordinator for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, is the 2011 Young Alumni Award recipient. He will receive the award at the annual Senior Champagne Brunch on Friday, May 13, 2011 (an invitation-only event). The Catholic, liberal arts college initiated the award in 2007 to recognize younger alumni who have distinguished themselves in their community and profession and who support the values promoted at Benedictine College.

“As a freshmen entering Benedictine College, Chris might not have projected as one of the finest athletes in the country,” said Benedictine’s longtime head football coach, Larry Wilcox. “However, his passion, determination, leadership and never admit defeat attitude provided the right chemistry for the many other fine athletes who Chris led as their quarterback and captain. These same qualities have provided the foundation for his career as an assistant coach at the junior college, college and Division I levels, head college coach and now at the professional level.”

Tabor is a native of St. Joseph, Mo., and is the son of Mary Jane and the late Don Tabor, a local coaching legend himself. Chris graduated from Benton High School and played football for his four years at Benedictine. He was a successful college quarterback, racking up 3,633 yards passing and 1,177 rushing in his career. He holds the college record for the longest rushing play (96 yards), which came against Minnesota Morris University in 1991.

He led the Raven squad to a 19-5 record as the starting quarterback in the 1991 and 1992 seasons, with a win in the Steamboat Bowl in 1991 and a Final Four appearance in the NAIA National Playoffs in 1992 with an 11-2 record. Benedictine College entered the Heart of America Athletic Conference in 1992 and won the conference title in the inaugural season, going on to defeat Hastings College and Baker University in the playoffs before losing to the eventual NAIA champion that year, Findlay University.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education at Benedictine College and a Master’s degree in education from Columbia (Mo.) College.

“Chris had distinct leadership skills and his outgoing personality made it easy for everyone to like him,” said Benedictine Athletic Director Charlie Gartenmayer reflecting on Tabor’s time as a Raven. “But he could make the tough decisions without damaging the relationship he had with people.”

Gartenmayer said that, since graduation, Tabor has become known for taking his faith to the workplace, starting Bible study groups and encouraging players to go to Mass.

“At each place he has gone, at the college and professional levels, he has always initiated a Bible study group,” Gartenmayer said. “Even with the (NFL’s Chicago) Bears, he had a lot of the players going to Mass and he had a priest on the sidelines for the players to interact with.”

Tabor has 18 years of coaching experience at the high school, college and professional levels, including the last three as the Chicago Bears’ assistant special teams coach. During Tabor’s three years in Chicago, the Bears special teams units ranked in the top five in nine different categories. Chicago led the NFL in total return yards (6,570) and kickoff return yards (5,415) and posted the second-best kickoff return average (25.1), ranked third in punt return defense (7.1) and produced the fifth-best punt return average (10.4). The Bears registered six kick returns for touchdowns in that time, tied for the second-most in the league. In 2010, the Bears ranked first in the league in punt return average (17.1), second in kickoff return average (25.4) and second in average drive start after kickoffs (31.5). Since 2008, Chicago is one of only six teams in the NFL to allow one or fewer kick return touchdowns.

Tabor has also helped shape some of the NFL’s top kick return specialists. In 2008, Danieal Manning led the NFL in kickoff return average (29.7). In 2009, Johnny Knox finished second in the league in kickoff return average (29.0) and earned a Pro Bowl selection as a kick returner. In 2010, Devin Hester led the NFL in punt return average (17.1) and punt return touchdowns (3) and was selected to the Pro Bowl as a kick returner.

Prior to his work in Chicago, Tabor spent two seasons at Western Michigan University as the running backs and special teams coach. He spent four seasons at Utah State University, where he was the running backs and special teams coach in 2005 after being the Aggies’ assistant head coach in charge of wide receivers from 2002-04.

Tabor spent four seasons at the University of Missouri, first as an offensive graduate assistant (1997-99) before moving into the role of running backs and special teams coach in 2000. He was also the head coach at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., in 2001. From 1993-1996, Tabor built experience at the NAIA, community college and high school levels, coaching at Central Methodist College in Fayette, Mo., Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College and Benton High School in St. Joseph, Mo.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report for the past four years as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. The school prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.