COLUMBIA | Dorial Green-Beckham’s former Missouri teammates were aware of the ongoing legal quagmire the star receiver was mired in last week.
Still, speaking after the team’s second public scrimmage of the spring Saturday at Memorial Stadium, several Tigers said they were shocked when word came down Friday that Green-Beckham had been dismissed.
“I didn’t see it coming,” said senior running back Marcus Murphy, who paced the offense with nine carries for 58 yards and three touchdowns during the scrimmage. “I didn’t expect it at all. I knew that he may be punished for some of his actions, but I did not expect that.”
Columbia police were prepared to issue a warrant for Green-Beckham’s role in a burglary and assault early Sunday morning at the Brookside Apartments, but the warrant application was withdrawn Thursday and he was never arrested after the victims declined to press charges.
Nonetheless, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel informed his team through a text message that Green-Beckham had been kicked off the team before the news became public and explained the decision during a team meeting.
“I made the decision that, No. 1, we want to help Dorial get better,” Pinkel said. “I think that’s real important, to get some help. The other No. 1 is I have to protect the integrity of the program.”
Ha later added, “I love that kid, and I want him to get some help. He can go to another place, get a fresh start and he can still achieve his goals.”
Teammates said they were shocked not only by Green-Beckham’s dismissal but by the underlying actions that led to it.
“I know Dorial,” said redshirt freshman receiver J’Mon Moore, who had a team-high seven catches for 58 yards during the scrimmage. “He’s definitely not the person to commit burglary or assault or all the things that I heard. That’s definitely not the Dorial that I know, so I was a little surprised.”
Of course, having such a high-profile teammate dismissed sent an unmistakable message to the rest of the Tigers.
Green-Beckham was a five-star recruit and widely considered the best high school receiver in the nation when he committed to Missouri. He led the Tigers last season in receptions (59) and touchdowns (12), finishing second on the team with 883 yards.
“It’s definitely a wake-up call to everyone on the team that you need to get yourself together,” said Moore, who was suspended briefly in March for being in the car when teammates Aarion Penton and Shaun Rupert were arrested along with two basketball players for marijuana possession.
Pinkel said he never considered the on-field impact dismissing Green-Beckham might have on the Tigers.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to do what’s right,” Pinkel said. “That’s every decision I’ve ever made here, you’ve got to do what’s right. … Right isn’t saying, ‘Gosh, we’re losing a really good player and we’re going to really miss him next year.’ I’d never made a decision like that.”
Of course, Green-Beckham’s dismissal is bound to have an impact.
“It’s obviously a blow, but we’ve got guys stepping in,” said sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk, who completed 16 of 26 passes for 153 yards during the scrimmage. “We’ve got five new guys coming and guys that are ready to step in here. We have so many receivers, it’s the same as last year. We kind of don’t know what to do with them all, because they all can play.”
Senior Bud Sasser, who had been slated to start in the slot, moved outside and took over Green-Beckham’s spot as the starting “X” receiver.
Sophomore Levi Copelin inherited the starting role in the slot as the Tigers’ “Y” receiver.
“It means it’s time to step up,” Copelin said. “You’ve got a chance to do what you wanted to do, come in here and be who you wanted to be. It’s time to go and it’s time to get ready. All this preparation, all this hard work, it doesn’t mean it gets to stop. It means you’ve got to step it up one more notch.”
After learning of Green-Beckham’s dismissal Friday, Mauk watched film with the receivers, including seniors Darius White and Jimmie Hunt, who are in line to start as the “Z” and “H” receivers, respectively.
“We’re still going to build,” Mauk said. “Bud’s going to bump out there and he’s going to do a great job. That’s the thing, Bud’s going to work every day. Darrius is fine-tuning everything he does and getting better. Levi stepped in there and did a great job the last few days and Jimmie’s done his part. As long as these guys stay focused and worry about themselves, we’ll be all right.”
Missouri’s defense officially won the scrimmage when sophomore cornerback Aarion Penton intercepted junior quarterback Corbin Berkstresser at the goal line during a two-minute drill. It was Penton’s second interception — both against Berkstresser — on the day.