Mizzou's Greatest, #70: DGB signs with the Tigers

Bill Connelly

Consider this ranking a place-holder for an event for which we cannot yet measure true significance.

How do you rank a statement? How do you put a ceremony on a list of Mizzou's greatest people, places, and things? Very carefully, that's how. Dorial Green-Beckham's signing did very little to improve Mizzou's fortunes on the field in 2012. It reaches this list tentatively, and with nothing but symbolism to help its cause at the moment. Three years from now, this might rank higher, or it might not rank at all.

Whether or not it eventually leads to some incredible change in fortune for the Missouri football program, there will always be that one time Mizzou signed the No. 1 prospect in the country. Gary Pinkel, David Yost, Andy Hill, and company fended off every program in the country to secure the services of Dorial Green-Beckham, and as recruiting is basically its own sport, that's a pretty big deal. So let's briefly relive that and remember the hope we had at the time; it's not too late for that hope to be fulfilled.

From Fox Sports' Thayer Evans:

Missouri’s in-home visit was laidback, but Pinkel talked a lot about football. Pinkel, Yost and receivers coach Andy Hill hung out with John Beckham on the backyard deck while he cooked steaks.

Yost later went into Eliza’s bedroom, where she read him the book, “Jonah and The Whale.” Hill played pingpong against the Beckhams’ children. Yost also played against Eliza, whom he beat 15-12.

Two months earlier, Pinkel had been arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, but John and Tracy Beckham said that didn’t change their opinion of him.

“I felt very bad for him,” Tracy Beckham said. “I don’t think he’s some crazy drunk. I do think if that could have been other places — Alabama, Arkansas — it would have never happened.”

A negative in John Beckham’s mind about Missouri, even before its move to the SEC, was that it hasn’t been as successful recently as Dorial’s other finalists. John Beckham also knew his son’s chances of playing for a national championship weren’t as high with the Tigers.

John Beckham liked the closeness of Missouri and that he knew their coaching staff before the Tigers’ recruitment of Dorial. Beckham said he respected Pinkel but was most impressed by the continuity of his coach staff.

“In this day and age at that level of football, that speaks volumes,” John Beckham said. […]

Once the Beckhams arrived at Missouri, dozens of fans greeted them with chants of “MIZ-DGB!” instead of the traditional “MIZ-ZOU!” The reception overwhelmed Dorial, who walked through the raucous crowd to Yost, who told him, “It’s OK. Just wave to them.”

Dorial did, and the crowd roared in delight. Moments later, Dorial had loosened up some when he was greeted by Pinkel, who told him to wave one more time.

The fans again erupted in cheers before Dorial was met inside Missouri’s football office by some of the university’s faculty. The Tigers' Hill then showed the Beckhams how he runs plays while one of Dorial’s brothers played video games in Pinkel’s office.

That night, the Beckhams were treated to steak and lobster in the Missouri football facility, but there was also fried sushi, Dorial’s favorite food. It was available at every meal Dorial ate during the visit, even breakfast.

The next day, when Dorial and his family arrived to watch the Missouri’s men’s basketball team play, the crowd roared. Before the game, there were fliers in the stands that said, “Mizzou has brought in the #1 ranked football player in the entire COUNTRY for today’s game . . . We’re changing the MIZ . . . ZOU chant today to MIZ . . . DGB. Please let Dorial feel the love and welcome him home to MIZZOU!!”

The chant rang out during the game, some students wore gold MIZ-DGB T-shirts, and there was even a giant cutout of Dorial’s head.

“It was just crazy,” Tracy Beckham said.

From some dude:

9:12 AM -- The principal welcomes any and all guests and begins to gush about how DGB is not only a great athlete but well-liked around the school and community. This doesn't really need to be said -- the school will give that away over the next 20 minutes. Meanwhile, DGB is reviewing the notes for his speech.

9:17 AM -- It's time for the announcement.

Though they share a long, horizontal border, Arkansas and Missouri have only faced off on the football field five times in 110 years (Mizzou 3, Arkansas 2), and they have not yet spent one day as actual conference rivals. But they have quickly learned to hate each other. Last spring, Arkansas lured Missouri's basketball coach, Mike Anderson, back to Fayetteville, where he had been a long-time assistant under Nolan Richardson. But basketball is not football. Five-star football recruits typically trump roundball coaches. And when the No. 1 recruit in the country is nearly equidistant from both schools -- 130 miles or so from Fayetteville, 160 from Columbia -- hard feelings multiply.

For most of the last year, Arkansas fans have considered their school the leader for DGB's services. Bobby Petrino began developing a solid relationship with him and his family a while ago, and with their SEC ties, recent success, and receiver-friendly offense, the Hogs clearly have plenty to offer a semi-local pass-catcher. For Hog fans, high on two years of great success (their record: 21-5), the chief competition in the DGB race would surely come from Oklahoma and, perhaps, Texas.

While Arkansas fans reveal themselves to be both proud and incredibly confident, Missouri fans alternate between the same level of pride and deep-seeded insecurity. For months, nobody talked about them as a factor in the DGB race, even though offensive coordinator David Yost had all but lived in Springfield for the past few years, getting to know Dorial, befriending the entire family. Missouri was the first to offer Dorial, but with the family doing an impressive (and rare) job of staying quiet, the "DGB favors ___" narrative came from elsewhere. First, Oklahoma was the leader; then, Arkansas. Texas was a darkhorse.

As Signing Day has approached, however, the race for DGB's services has zeroed on the two closest schools. DGB took an official visit to Texas, and by all accounts the family really liked Mack Brown, but Austin was probably too far from home base. Meanwhile, he canceled an official visit to Oklahoma in December and never rescheduled. His schedule was clouded with basketball games, but he managed to get down to Fayetteville for his official visit on January 20 and to Columbia on January 27. Arkansas fans were entirely convinced he was theirs around January 22. A week later, he had made a different choice.

The crowd goes wild. (In texting a friend, I learn that the iPhone's auto-correct attempts to change "apeshit" to "sprague.") One gets the impression, however, that while there are plenty of Mizzou supporters in the crowd, they were cheering mostly for Dorial himself. The ovation would have been almost as loud had he announced he was playing basketball at Alaska-Fairbanks.

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