By The Associated Press
Dorial Green-Beckham, left, goes through receiving drills at practice this week. Like all freshmen, Green-Beckman has to work his way onto the team’s depth chart.
Four days into fall camp, heralded Missouri freshman Dorial Green-Beckham is ready for the season to start.
The 6-foot-6-inch, 220-pound wide receiver from Springfield, Mo., arrived at Missouri with lofty expectations after being one of the top recruits in the nation.
“Day-by-day, it’s getting easier. Practice, just going through these playbooks and learning it, once you get out there, you’re like, ‘Well, OK, I know what to do on that. I know where to line up at,'” he said.
The biggest adjustment to college is the increased pace of play, Green-Beckham said.
Since arriving at Missouri earlier in the summer, he’s been practicing fundamentals and reading through the playbook with fellow receivers Jimmie Hunt and L’Damian Washington, whom Green-Beckham called his big brothers.
Coach Gary Pinkel said first-year players start at the bottom of the depth chart and will only play if they demonstrate they can help the team. On Missouri’s current depth chart, Green-Beckham isn’t even listed.
Although Green-Beckham said he hopes to be on it by opener against Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 1, he understands what it takes to earn playing time and doesn’t feel pressure being possibly the most sought-after recruit to ever choose Missouri.
“Who wants to play? Who wants to work harder at this? Who wants to take more time studying? All those little things, like learning the plays, all that counts trying to bump up to that next spot,” he said.
Offensive coordinator Dave Yost said the receiver’s humbleness will help him fit in with teammates, learn the playbook and earn playing time.
“That’s what’s really interesting to see: how quickly he was accepted by his teammates as just being one of the guys,” Yost said. “And I think that’s how he wants to fit in, too. I think everyone wants the football. You’re a wide receiver; you want the football. But I truly believe he wants to be successful to help his team out.”
Yost recounted how Green-Beckham’s father told his son “he better catch a lot of footballs” to live up to the hype, and that challenge, along with high school teams trying to defend him with three or four players, made Green-Beckham a competitive person.
Despite those extra defenders, Green-Beckham still excelled last year, catching 119 passes for 24 touchdowns and 2,233 yards. He set the national prep record in career receiving yards with 6,447.
But Green-Beckham chose Missouri in part because it’s his home-state school, and it’s clear how much his family plays a role in his life.
He says he calls home to his adoptive parents, John and Tracy Beckham, every few days to check in, as well as to his younger brother, Darnell, to wish each other good luck. Green-Beckham thinks Darnell, a rising junior at Hillcrest High School, will rejoin the football team after battling leukemia since his freshman year.
“My dreams and expectations are just to go out there and be one of the best players I can be,” Green-Beckham said. “To push myself better than what I did in high school and try to make things right on and off the field.”
That attitude hasn’t gone unnoticed by veterans on his new team.
“If you think, in any position, no matter how old or young you are, that you’re not going to have any competition, that you shouldn’t work hard, I don’t think you’re going to get much better because you have no motivation,” quarterback James Franklin said. “But if you come in wanting to learn and do new things, that’s something that will help get you better.”