Column: Landing DGB: How "M-I-Z" made unconventional sense
Feb. 05, 2012
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
What happened when Dorial Green-Beckham went behind the podium didn’t have to be logical.
When time finally came for the land’s most prized gridiron blue-chipper to announce where he would provide his athletic services, it didn’t have to be about the Alabamas or the Ohio States or the LSUs or any other colossus that ruled the first Wednesdays of the second month. The 6-foot-6-inch, 220-pound wide receiver — already boasting the frame of the essential pro — had his choice of any of America’s powerhouses.
Who wouldn’t want such a specimen? Who wouldn’t want to help mold what scouts consider to be the next Randy Moss? Who wouldn’t want a piece of the wrecking ball that destroyed backfields single-handedly to become the career holder for most receiving yards in a high school career?
"The kid wasn’t even enrolled. But, when he was around, Green-Beckham was the most popular student at the university."
National Signing Day is the finish line, the point when recruiters are all giving their last huffs and puffs after maddening chases for the country’s finest senior football players. As has been the custom, the player sits behind a small row of college ball caps and when the player selects one and puts it on his head, his new coach celebrates somewhere.
There was no such row of caps in front of Green-Beckham. The emblems of supposed contenders Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma were not in his vicinity Wednesday morning inside the gymnasium of Hillcrest High School in Springfield, Mo., the site hosting his much-anticipated decision broadcasted by ESPNU.
In the end, one hat was all that was ever needed.
He could be seen through the television wearing a smoky gray jacket over a black shirt and white tie, an 18-year-old appearing to be 20-something. He sat in-between his adoptive parents: high school coach John Beckham and Beckham's wife, Tracy.
They were with him during his official visit to Missouri the previous weekend. He and his younger brother Darnell had grown up as foster kids, and they were with him then, when he needed a home, a place to be.
He went up the home team’s sidelines. Missouri and Iowa State players warmed up on Faurot Field on that sunny afternoon of Oct. 15. After Adym Cooney, a student leader of Tiger’s Lair, instructed a faction of the student section to chant “M-I-Z-D-G-B,” Green-Beckham heard his first rounds of his name injected into age-old tradition on campus.
The next time he’d hear it was when he returned for his official visit Jan. 27. He stepped out of a black Honda to be greeted by a student mass holding signs and blown-up prints of his face outside the football practice facility.
It was louder than ever the next night, when he walked the baselines of Mizzou Arena toward his seat behind the home bench to spectate the Tigers’ match with Texas Tech. There were members of The Antlers handing out fliers to traffic leading to the arena, advising fans to respond “D-G-B” instead of “Z-O-U” this time.
With a little less than four minutes to play, the game might as well have been stopped. Green-Beckham headed toward the tunnel he would exit through. As he waved goodbye, the crowd was erupting as if the game had been won by a last-second buzzer-beater.
When asked after the game about the “extra-curriculars,” senior guard Kim English smiled.
“Nah, we were completely focused on Texas Tech,” he said, pausing and then smiling a little wider. “I hope he comes here, though.”
The kid wasn’t even enrolled. But, when he was around, Green-Beckham was the most popular student at the university.
"I think Dorial feels some connection to these folks,” wide receivers coach Andy Hill told The Maneater on Wednesday afternoon.
At around 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, during the scheduled airing of Green-Beckham’s announcement, it’s unlikely coaches in the hunt for him were so composed as Gary Pinkel.
Coaches, who had invested so much time and so much effort to gain a commitment, must have held their breaths. But Pinkel, who two weeks ago landed in a helicopter on Hillcrest’s football field to visit Green-Beckham after school, was sitting in his office, no TV on.
"A beacon for a newcomers’ ability to recruit and to compete could be in the form of a very big kid, born and raised in the hometown state."
“I didn’t want to watch it,” he said. “I was hoping someone would scream.”
And just what would those screams sound like?
Perhaps it would be the sound of gaining an addition to bolster the development of quarterback James Franklin, whose crop of options will notably include T.J. Moe and Marcus Lucas next season. It could be the sound of acquiring automatic offensive production.
Or perhaps it would be the sound of the best thing happening for a program journeying for respect. For a team embarking upon a new era by joining the elite company of the Southeastern Conference, maybe it would be the best sign of all for hope, a symbol of all the possibilities.
A beacon for a newcomers’ ability to recruit and to compete could be in the form of a very big kid, born and raised in the hometown state.
At approximately 9:24 a.m., there were screams.
“Next year,” he said to America, “I’ll be continuing my education at…”
Green-Beckham reached behind, took the black, gold-brimmed cap, placed it on his head, and before he could say, “the University of Missouri,” he was drowned by the jubilation of more than 13,000 people in attendance at Hillcrest.
His family was on either side of him: three of his foster siblings plus little Eliza, the only biological daughter of John and Tracey, and Darnell. They all clapped and smiled big.
“Just to be home,” he listed as his reason. “To be close to family members and have everyone come out to support me.”
The recruitment possible of changing the outlook of a program had been completed. Inside safeties coach Alex Grinch’s office, offensive coordinator David Yost, who met Green-Beckham at a youth camp when he was entering the 8th grade, leapt out of his leather recliner chair, as seen in a video on Mizzou Network. He gave handshakes and hugs to staff around the room while someone exclaimed, “We did it! We did it!”
Pinkel soon joined the celebration.
"We had a chance to get this guy,” he said. “It's a statement about where we've come from, where we're at now and, most important to me, where we're going to go."
It’s difficult to make sense of it, difficult to see how Missouri, a transitioning program still reaching for upper-echelon status, received and verified the national letter of intent from the nation’s No. 1 player Wednesday at 10:05 a.m.
But this wasn’t about other schools. This wasn’t about where he was supposed to go. This was about where he was meant to go.
This was about a kid that wanted to stay home. And within the hours that he made that decision, a billboard was placed in the Hillcrest area.
“CONGRATS! MIZ-DGB” it read in blocked letters. It rose high, high enough for all to see how perfectly fitting the phrase really was.