HOOVER, Ala. — If Dorial Green-Beckham turns out to be half as good as his Missouri teammates say he is, then Missouri fans had better get their popcorn ready.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
DGB, as Missouri fans have come to call him, reported to campus with the rest of MU’s freshmen about a month ago and has been taking place in private 7-on-7 drills ever since.
And it looks like Green-Beckham – a five-star receiver from Springfield who was ranked by Rivals as the No. 1 player in the Class of 2012 – has already won over his older teammates, one of whom raved about him during the SEC Media Days on Tuesday at the Wynfrey Hotel.
“Well, if LeBron James lost about 40 pounds, that’s what he’d look like,” said senior receiver T.J. Moe. “He does things you don’t see people that big do. He’s 6-foot-6, 220 pounds…he’ll run by somebody, they can’ catch him, and you’ll think the guy overthrew him and he’ll go up and get the ball. He can do things like that that’s really not very common.”
Moe said Green-Beckham still has to learn the mental part of the game, but added that he’s done a few things with the gifted freshman to help him get acclimated (though not a ton).
“I show him how to watch him, try to teach him some things he can look at, how to reach coverages and stuff,” Moe said. “But he’s going to have learn all that stuff once he gets the pads on. But he’s a tough kid – you don’t get here without being tough.”
And while Green-Beckham’s physical gifts are undeniable, Moe was just as happy to talk about his good-natured personality.
“All his teammates love him – every one of them,” Moe said. “All the freshman class, nobody says a negative word about him because he likes everybody, he just wants to be around the guys and hang out. As far as being a great teammate and a great leader, he’s there.”
When asked about Green-Beckham specifically, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel – as is his custom – was noncommittal about how much he will play. On signing day, however, one member of the football staff stated that they see him playing the “X” receiver position, the same one prolific MU pass-catchers like Mike Egnew and Danario Alexander have thrived in, of late.
“He’s just got to focus on himself in terms of just trying to learn the position,” Pinkel said. “He’s competing to obviously play and help us win.”
But DGB isn’t the only freshman making an impression so far. Left tackle Elvis Fisher said this freshman group, as a whole, is one of the hardest working groups he’s ever seen.
“They work their butts off,” Fisher said. “They’re coming in and they’re eager to learn; they’re always asking me to come watch film with them and stuff. I’m all about it.”
Fisher said former Lee’s Summit West offensive lineman Evan Boehm has shown good footwork and strength, and praised tight end Sean Culkin’s athleticism. He said Staley running back Morgan Steward is a pretty strong kid – he noted that Steward has already tested as “SEC-standard” in the hang clean in MU’s offseason weight program, which is no small feat.
“That’s very hard to do, especially for a freshman,” Fisher said. “We used to have Big 12 standards, now they’re called SEC standards. They’re just certain targets we want to get, personal records we want to hit at each position.”
Moe also listed a number of freshmen that have caught his eye.
“Sean Culkin, he’s a tight end, a guy that I think can help us this year,” Moe said. “(Receiver) Levi Copelin, Evan Boehm has caught my eye. (Running back) Russell Hansbrough –he reminds me of Henry (Josey) a little bit – little, compact and fast.
“Mike Scherer the linebacker,” Moe continued. “(John) Gibson, the kid from Texas, he reminds me of E.J. Gaines when he was a freshman, the plays he’s been making out there. I think he’ll be good, too. I’m probably missing one or two, but those are the guys I’m seeing right now.”
A LITTLE HOUSECLEANING
Before we delve further into the notebook, here’s a full list of stories The Star’s three-man team (@KentBabb, @BlairKerkhoff and @TerezPaylor) wrote off Day 1 of the SEC Media Days.
*Moe, Tigers stand tall against doubters at SEC Media Days
*Pinkel speaks of Paterno’s “greatness”
*For all the SEC talk, Franklin is the key for Missouri
*Texas A&M players preparing for faster football
*Injury updates on James Franklin, Henry Josey and Lucas Vincent
*New tricks for quarterbacks at South Carolina, Mizzou
*Alden gives pep talk to MU boosters
*SEC Media Days buzz | Day one
MORE ON MOE
You can read my story about T.J. Moe’s star turn on Tuesday here – I haven’t seen someone become this big of a media darling that quickly since the first year Michigan’s Fab Five made the NCAA Tournament – but it’s important to remember that Moe was equally insightful as he was entertaining this week.
For instance, when a reporter asked him about the worst thing a fan has said to him regarding the move to the SEC, Moe didn’t mince words. “People will come up to you and be like ‘Dude, do you think you’re going to get killed this year?” Moe said. “And I’m like ‘Thanks man.’”
Moe quickly turned it into a joke, however.
“A lot of it is not about the SEC, it’s about me; I was at a snow cone place the other day with one of my friends and he told some guy I played football, and the guy was like ‘Dude you must be really fast because you’re small.”
PINKEL TALKS BIG 12
Missouri’s head coach isn’t big on reminiscing – he reminded a small group of reporters that he’s not into that Tuesday – but he did mention how unfortunate it is that the Big 12, in its original form, couldn’t stay together.
“Missouri was in there, Nebraska, Colorado and A&M and the rest of the eight teams…it was such a great league, potential-wise,” Pinkel said. “It’s kind of sad the leadership did not allow that to (stay) together. There’s reasons why four teams left. That’s disappointing and sad because it was a great league. But I wish them well.”
RICHARDSON POISED FOR BIG SEASON?
Few doubt senior defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson’s talent – the 6-foot-4, 295-pounder was a five-star prospect out of St. Louis four years ago – but Pinkel is optimistic the best is still yet to come from the gifted junior college transfer.
Richardson, who started two games last season and finished with 37 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two sacks, is apparently recovering nicely from off-season shoulder surgery that kept him out the entire spring.
“He’s having a great summer,” Pinkel said. “I’ve been told by (associate AD for athletic performance) Pat Ivey and some of the staff that his leadership has been tremendous. He’s got potential, he’s very gifted physically. It’s unlimited what he can achieve.”
Pinkel added that Richardson still has plenty of room to develop, physically, as well.
“People forget when he (first) came here, he missed all of last summer, so he didn’t get any of the training we do – the discipline, the toughness, all those things that really help build our program,” Pinkel said. “So then he has shoulder surgery, and he misses (more training).”
Richardson, who is currently listed as the first-string defensive tackle, will be needed this year against the rugged pro sets Missouri is sure to see in the SEC.
PINKEL ON POWER FOOTBALL
For all the talk Tuesday about the physical nature of the SEC, people seem to forget that Pinkel is from the state of Ohio, a place once lorded over by Woody Hayes’ Buckeye teams. Point is, the man has an understanding of power football – and he knows how to prepare for it.
“We understand that we’re going to have to make a few adjustments in our practices,” Pinkel said. “We understand that we’re going to see a lot of power football, I-formation football, two-back football, so we need to do the things, preparation-wise, in spring football and certainly in two-a-days to help prepare our defense.”
Translation: On several occasions this season, MU’s scout team offense will get to line up and do their best mid-70s Ohio State impersonation. Archie Griffin, anyone?
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.