COLUMBIA — During a trying year, overall, for Missouri’s football team, perhaps no player has been watched — by fans and observers alike — more closely than freshman receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
This is understandable. The consensus No. 1 recruit in the country in the class of 2012, Green-Beckham excited teammates and coaches alike with his unique combination of size and speed during preseason camp.
Little, however, has come easy this season for Green-Beckham, a 6-foot-6, 220-pounder from Springfield.
His numbers are modest — seven catches for 128 yards and a touchdown — and if you throw in MU’s 3-4 overall record, not to mention an arrest for suspicion of marijuana possession (along with fellow freshmen Levi Copelin and Torey Boozer) three weeks ago, it’s safe to say this hasn’t been a dream season for him.
However, Green-Beckham — who spoke to the news media Monday for the first time since the incident — says this is a reality that applies to his teammates, as well.
“It’s been frustrating (to) all of us,” Green-Beckham said. “We’ve just got to take that frustration out on the field instead of ourselves or other teammates.”
When asked about his arrest, Green-Beckham was contrite, calling it a “mistake” and saying he can only learn from it and move on.
“I turned it into a positive thing,” he said. “After it happened, I just thought about it a lot, and then I was like, ‘All right, I’ve got to be here for my teammates. I can’t let it get to me, I can’t let it get to us and our team.’ Because we need all of us to be on the same page and all of us to be there for each other.”
Green-Beckham said he addressed the incident with his teammates, at least one of whom — senior receiver T.J. Moe — has voiced their support.
“I just let them know where I was coming from,” Green-Beckham said. “It shouldn’t have happened. It won’t happen again, so they understand.”
On the field, Green-Beckham said he has worked diligently to make the adjustment from high school to college, which certainly hasn’t been easy.
“The difference is getting through the playbook and playing up to (my) speed,” Green-Beckham said, echoing what his coaches have effectively been saying for months. “That’s the only difference that I thought of when I got here. Everything else is just fine to me.”
When he first spoke to reporters in August, Green-Beckham drew chuckles when he responded to a question about his favorite route by saying “anything deep.” He said his preference for deep routes has not changed, though he’s made only one notable play downfield this season, an 80-yard catch-and-run up the seam in MU’s 21-16 win over Central Florida on Sept. 29.
That one play, however, gives him confidence that he can make more plays downfield going forward. Same goes for Missouri’s struggling offense, which he remains hopeful can revert to its old high-scoring ways.
“Five games left,” Green-Beckham said. “We’ve still got time.”
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.