Editorial Commentary: DGB – The One That Got Away?


Fayetteville, Ark. – Since we began profiling the incoming Arkansas Razorback 2012 recruiting class readers on Razorbackers.com have been responding positively to each player. A common thread in comments and emails received from Razorback Nation is remorse about the one recruit that did not sign… Dorial Green-Beckham.

Dorial Green-Beckham, for those of you that may not be familiar with college football recruiting, was largely considered the top recruit in the nation for the 2012 class.

Speculation had Arkansas at the top of Green-Beckham’s short list of schools for months but the top prep recruit switched last minute to Missouri. Not only were Arkansas fans shocked but by and large so were Tiger fans.

The switch caused astute college football recruiting pundits and college football fans to scratch their head on the about face decision. What happened in the final minutes/days leading up to National Signing Day to make “DGB” switch from a high powered proven offense under then Arkansas head football Bobby Petrino to a mid-level Big 12 team soon to be a new member of the SEC?

Fox Sports writer Thayer Evans provided an in-depth analysis of the Hornets star wide receivers actions in a piece titled Inside the chase for top recruit DGB (posted online Feb. 2). The article dissected the background thoughts and actions of DGB, his family, and those teams trying to recruit him. The article only added fuel to the confusing fire of Green-Beckham’s decision.

At 6’6”, 220 pounds, DGB was a man among boys while playing for Hillcrest High School in Springfield, Mo. He finished his high school career as the nation’s all-time leading receiver amassing 6,353 receiving yards with 75 total receiving touchdowns.

If his size is not intimidating on a high school level considered his reported strength and speed; bench press 295, squat 385, and a forty-yard dash time of 4.43. Assuming there are no puffs in the numbers each recorded speed and strength entry is on the level with college seniors wide receivers and some NFL wide receivers as well.

Another advantage DGB had on the field was the love and admiration of his high school coach, who is also his adopted father. Taking advantage of his adopted son’s size and speed, Hornet’s coach John Beckham ran his offense for parts of four years through the talented wide receiver allowing him to post video game level statistics.

Most high school corners do not have the talent to cover college level wide receivers much less someone with DGB’s gifts. Leading many to wonder just how great of a high school talent he really was and how that would translate at the collegiate level. DGB’s journey to Missouri has brought up much debate.

Evan states in his article that John Beckham thought his son was going to Arkansas.

DGB to Arkansas at the time made sense to every other college football fan outside the state of Missouri. Arkansas was running an explosive high powered offense engineered by Bobby Petrino, one of the best offensive minds in the college game.

Even the distance from Arkansas’ campus to the Beckham’s home was closer than University of Missouri’s campus; not a drastic difference in distance but still closer. This was a concern and a consideration for DGB because of the health of his younger brother Darnell’s fight with leukemia. He wanted to stay close to home should his brother need him.

Outside influences aside one can see in theory why Missouri would be an attractive university to DGB. An in-state kid stays home to help raise the affluence of a mid-level college football program as they enter into the best college football conference in the nation, all the makings of a hero in a Hollywood movie. Or the big fish in a small pond theory. Either way Missouri fans will dote on their in-state prodigy in ways other schools may not be able to do.

The Beckham’s, John and his wife Tracy, at one point state that they did not influence their adopted child to go to Missouri but contradict that statement numerous times in Evan’s article.

Tracy spoke positively of University of Texas head coach Mack Brown while taking group pictures. Yes, evidentially the inclusion of everyone during picture taking time is a noteworthy moment to be commented on for Evan’s article. The fact that Mack Brown was nice to Tracy while taking pictures had to be brought up on the ride home back to Missouri or at any number of family dinners.

Auburn was cut out of the equation because of speculation around former Tigers’ quarterback Cam Newton. Newton’s family was accused of taking money in a “play for pay” deal with Auburn. After the Beckham’s visit to Auburn, online rumors began to swirl about another pay to play scandal with DGB and his family putting an abrupt end to Auburn’s chances per Tracy Beckham.

John Beckham decided for his son that he did not want his son playing at Notre Dame after seeing Brian Kelly slam his headset down after a game instead of handing it to an assistant. That one act of frustration was enough to warrant John Beckham to make a decision about his adopted son’s future.

During a visit to Texas Tracy commented on how expensive everything was at the hotel they stayed at and the restaurants they dined, one being at Vince Young’s steakhouse. She even went as far as to negatively comment that Texas could not and would not pay for Darnell and one of Darnell’s friend’s dinners because of NCAA rules.

Playing by the rules is something lost on Tracy as she commented, “It’s weird that these coaches tell on each other.”

Within minutes of Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel’s in-home visit to DGB he had already broken a NCAA violation by allowing him to sit inside the helicopter he flew in for the visit.

Tracy later commented on Pinkel’s DUI arrest stating, “I do think if that could have been other places – Alabama, Arkansas – it would have never happened.”

Whether accurate or not her statement was completely out of line. In one quick verbal swipe she discounted the integrity of police officers in Fayetteville and Tuscaloosa along with the coaches on those staffs for nothing more than to discredit others while pushing her own agenda.

For the record something similar did happen in Arkansas on April 1, and it was not covered up.

John Beckham acknowledged how well Arkansas recruited Dorial but still had concerns about the turnover rate on the Razorbacks’ coaching staff. Beckham stated, “When guys are moving on for higher jobs, I understand that, but when there’s a lot of sideways movement, that’s one of those things that causes trepidation.”

As an educator of young men and one in contact directly with the Razorback coaching staff one would assume that John Beckham would have a better excuse than this against Arkansas at that time. The only coach to be dismissed from the team was former defensive coordinator Willy Robinson after four average years with Arkansas. That is Robinson was asked to resign for poor performance not that coaches keep leaving the staff as found with Gene Chizik at Auburn.

Two other coaches on Arkansas’ staff left at the end of the 2011 season to take head coaching positions, higher positions. John L. Smith left to take over as head coach at his alma mater (who would later return as interim head coach for the Hogs) and Garrick McGee took the UAB Blazers position.

Tracy negatively commented about Dorial going to a bar during his visit to Arkansas but thought positively of his visit to a bar in Columbia called Harpo’s because they had a sign out front that read “MIZ-DGB”, in place of “MIZ-ZOU.” She said, “They had quite the fine time.”

Speaking to a Springfield area scout on anonymity, the scout said, “Not much was asked of Dorial in high school. DGB rarely was used on reverses or even as a free safety in tight games to help knock down passes or keep opposing running backs from breaking lose for a score.”

The level of competition the Hornet’s star faced in high school is far below the level most top recruits face in bigger metropolitan areas. Instead of facing double teams against a secondary with guys that may run a 4.6 forty-yard dash and stand 5’10”, he will be facing the top corners in the nation with 4.4 forty-speed that are 6 foot tall or better in the best college football conference in the nation that specializes in defense.

Missouri fans hear No. 1 recruit and think a savior has come to town, and who could blame them? DGB is an athlete and assumingly will adjust to the level of competition over time.

Is transformation is in process. Even his own teammates have been quoted about him being very raw at this point. In an interview conducted with ESPN’s Mark Schlabach Tiger’s cornerback E.J. Gaines said, “DGB is big, fast, and can catch but you can tell he is just out of high school.”

In all fairness had DGB taken his talents to Arkansas this commentary would be much different. Any school that can claim the No. 1 recruit in the nation adds cache to the program with future recruiting classes. Hats off to Missouri and their fans for flipping the top recruit in the nation at the last minute.

Is it wrong to wonder if John Beckham will transition from head coach at Hillcrest High School in Springfield, Mo., to maybe the wide receiver coach at University of Missouri before Dorial’s time at Missouri is through?

Why would John and especially Tracy be so happy that Dorial is going to Missouri over Arkansas? That question is never honestly answered in Evan’s article.

DGB may end up being one of the best college wide receivers to ever lace’em up. He also may be a four year decoy split out to run fly patterns down field so receivers and running backs can curl underneath his pattern to find space in the open defense. Time will tell.

This commentary is not to suggest Dorial is not a top prospect or will be a bust at the college level. The article is also not suggesting that DGB is a bad person or made a poor choice. After the dismissal of Petrino from Arkansas, Missouri fans and the Beckham’s assumingly felt that the correct decision was made. Again, time will tell.

The point of this editorial is to calm the frustration of Razorback fans while painting a picture of the reality behind DGB’s recruiting. Apples to apples the recruiting of DGB was through his parents not through the high school prospect regardless of how John and Tracy Beckham try to spin it. Who all wins with John Beckham’s decision, sorry, DGB’s decision in the long run? Again, time will tell.