It was too good to be true.
On Feb. 1, 2012, the top football recruit in the country picked Missouri, our Missouri, over virtually every other school in the country. Two years and three public incidents involving law enforcement later, coach Gary Pinkel kicked him off the team.
The loss of Dorial Green-Beckham cannot be measured in yards or touchdowns. It’s measured through untapped potential and the fall of an icon.
Green-Beckham wasn’t just a 6-foot-6-inch athlete with a blazing 40 and soft hands. He was a symbol that Missouri sports mattered. That the most dominant high school senior in the country would pick Columbia over Austin, Texas; Norman, Okla.; and South Bend, Ind.
And it wasn’t just about him. Pinkel often spoke of Green-Beckham’s impact on recruiting. DGB made CoMo a destination for 18 year olds looking to further educations and football careers.
And while they weren’t the most important factor, those yards and touchdowns were impressive. Green-Beckham underwhelmed in his freshman year and overwhelmed in his sophomore season.
In 2013, he caught 59 passes for 883 yards and shared the SEC lead for receiving touchdowns with 12. He set the Missouri record for receiving touchdowns in a game, tallying four at Kentucky. He caught two touchdowns in the Southeastern Conference Championship game, a venue few fans figured the Tigers could reach.
Green-Beckham, along with the rest of the Tigers, helped restore Missouri to football prominence after an ugly 2012 season. The team went 12-2 in the 2013 season, tying a school record for wins, and beat former conference-rival Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.
After his superb sophomore campaign, Tiger fans envisioned Green-Beckham and redshirt freshman quarterback Maty Mauk lighting up Saturdays around the South throughout 2014.
But that vision will never fashion into reality, and there appears to be no one to blame but Green-Beckham, himself.
The first public sign of trouble came in October 2012, when Green-Beckham was arrested for smoking marijuana with a group of football players in parking lot near Faurot Field. He was suspended for one game.
Green-Beckham remained in the headlines, but only for the right reasons, until Jan. 11. Police pulled over a car he was riding in for a routine traffic stop in his hometown of Springfield, Mo. The officer smelled marijuana, and sure enough, a pound of it was found in the car.
Just three months later, the team announced it had suspended Green-Beckham, although it didn’t say for what. It turned out Columbia police were investigating Green-Beckham’s involvement with an April 6 burglary. The victim decided not to press charges.
On April 11, Pinkel dismissed his best player from the team.
It was too good to be true.