Will Dorial Green-Beckham Be the SEC's Top Receiver Next Season?
It is perhaps because it is the ultimate day of hope for college football fans, but there is something about National Signing Day that turns 17- and 18-year-old kids into Supermen.
Many overreactors may as well talk about prospects as if they were putting on capes, not caps, when making their college decisions official.
That leads us to Missouri and its projected savior, Dorial Green-Beckham.
The wideout from Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest High School is among the country's most physically gifted incoming freshmen, regardless of position.
At 6'6", 220 pounds, he also is a legitimate Division I basketball and track prospect. However, he is thought to be a football prodigy.
A senior season that saw him catch 119 passes for 2,233 yards with 24 touchdowns propelled Green-Beckham to the national high school career receiving yardage record of 6,447 yards—almost 600 yards more than the former mark held by former LSU and Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian wideout Abram Booty.
However, that was playing Missouri prep football. Can he also put up big numbers as a freshman for the Southeastern-Conference-bound Tigers?
The opportunity is there.
Following a 2011 campaign that saw him complete 238-of-376 passes (63 percent) for 2,865 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, quarterback James Franklin will be back for his junior year.
He and Green-Beckham will be good for one another in ways beyond the obvious.
In addition to the potentially prolific passing statistics they could put up as a duo, Green-Beckham also is a big and willing blocker.
And the 6'2", 225-pound Franklin—who followed highly respected passers Brad Smith, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert at Mizzou—had 217 carries for 981 yards with 15 touchdowns in 2011.
Green-Beckham should make Franklin that much more difficult to defend.
However, that last word there—defend—is something of a foreign concept to teams in the Tigers' former conference.
Competing in the SEC, Franklin will be taking on defenders unlike any he ever saw in the tackling-optional Big 12.
The conference schedule will begin on Sept. 8 with a visit from Georgia, which could see them face the SEC's top returning defensive player in pass-rushing outside linebacker Jarvis Jones. Two weeks later, the Tigers will visit star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and South Carolina.
Later games include home matchups against rapidly improving Vanderbilt (Oct. 6) and defending BCS national champion Alabama (Oct. 13), as well as trips to Florida (Nov. 3) and Tennessee (Nov. 10), a pair of contests which will see Missouri competing in front of around 200,000 hostile fans clad in orange.
What will Dorial Green-Beckham do as a freshman at Missouri?
In 2011, the Crimson Tide produced what could be argued was college football's all-time greatest defense, and the Gators could trot out the nation's top D in 2012.
Still, Green-Beckham should be very effective.
After all, two receivers with similar size and athleticism—A.J. Green and Julio Jones—parlayed successful careers at Georgia and Alabama, respectively, into becoming Top-10 NFL draft picks last April. Another, South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery, should be a first-rounder this year.
However, don't look for Green-Beckham to break college football receiving records.
That possibility ended before he even made his college decision. It ended the day Missou left the Big 12 for the SEC.
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