Story by Alex Silverman
Photo by Kelsey Alumbaugh
Thousands of people tuned in to ESPNU to watch Dorial Green-Beckham, the top-ranked high school football recruit in the nation, announce where he would play his college football. Gary Pinkel was not one of them.
Missouri head football coach Gary Pinkel talks about the 2012 recruiting class on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012, at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo. Missouri landed the No. 1 recruit, Dorial Green-Beckham.
Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel and his coaching staff have had their sights set on Wednesday morning — National Signing Day — for more than a year. But at the time of the announcement Pinkel was alone in his office as the rest of his staff watched elsewhere.
“I didn’t want to watch it,” Pinkel said. “I was just hoping someone would start screaming. And when everybody around started yelling, I jumped out of my seat, man.”
While it wasn’t until recently that the national media’s interest in “DGB” was piqued, the Tigers’ coaching staff has had its eyes on the Springfield, Mo., wide receiver for years. Having had invested so much time and energy into recruiting Green-Beckham, receivers coach Andy Hill, who was watching the announcement live, said his emotions were running high.
“I was cautiously optimistic, but I knew I was either going to be on top of the world or going to want to jump off the Hearnes Center this morning,” Hill said. “There was no in between.”
In the two weekends prior to National Signing Day, Green-Beckham made official visits to both the University of Arkansas and Missouri. While media members speculated about which school the 6-foot-6-inch receiver would choose, Hill said nobody, including himself, had a clue.
“You just never really knew because he was really guarded. Usually with a recruit you’re getting an indication somewhere along the line. There wasn’t one time where Dorial ever gave you that.”
Offensive coordinator David Yost, whose reaction to the announcement was captured on video, worked closely with Hill in recruiting Green-Beckham. He had been in contact with Green-Beckham and his father, John Beckham, for months. He said that every moment the coaches could officially spend with Green-Beckham was thoroughly planned.
“I put everything he said in my files,” Yost said. “When he went to one school, they had a meeting with all the receivers and it was really good, he liked hanging out with the receivers. So Friday night he met with our receivers.”
“We had dinner (Friday) night,” Yost said. “He said ‘I like fried sushi.’ So, we called the place in Springfield where he goes and asked them how they make the fried sushi. We had our chefs talk to them and we made fried sushi for him. It’s all those little things that make him feel comfortable with our staff.”
Like Hill, Yost expressed uncertainty leading up to Green-Beckham’s announcement. It was that uncertainty, he said, that made the defining moment so sweet.
“When he put the Missouri hat on, I was probably as excited then as I’ve been any football thing ever,” Yost said. “It was like a great play just happened in a game.”
After donning the black and gold cap, ESPNU anchor Rece Davis asked Green-Beckham what he thought of Yost’s shaggy blonde hair. With a smile on his face, the high school senior responded, “I would like for Coach Yost to cut his hair.” Asked if he would oblige, Yost said Green-Beckham’s request came a bit too late.
“He had a chance to name my son last year if he had committed in April,” Yost said. “I texted Coach (John) Beckham last year before I had my youngest and I said ‘you have about three hours before we have our baby. If Dorial wants to get him named, all he has to do is commit.’”
“So if he had said, ‘when I commit you gotta cut your hair,’ there were a couple of times I would’ve said ‘okay.’ But he didn’t ask.”
Pinkel’s answers to questions at the news conference
Mizzou Brand: Gary, how much do you think the Mizzou brand grew today with the recruiting class especially getting players of the caliber of Dorial and Evan? Is it now easier to go into the homes of the quote unquote four and five star guys? (Length: 44 seconds)
Dorial Green-Beckham: Gary, I know you have a system in place for where kids start when they come into the program but what can Dorial do for this offense? How can he fit in into your system? (Length: 1:04)
SEC recruiting: You mentioned that you think being in the SEC will help you with recruiting in the future. Do you think it helped you in the last two months ever since the announcement came out? (Length: 1:23)
Maty Mauk: Fair or not because of the offense he plays in and the numbers he put up there are already a lot of Maty Mauk—Chase Daniel comparisons out there. Do you see similar things in him? What do you see in Maty that you like so much? (Length: 1:04)
Recruiting: Gary just to go back to recruiting down south, can you talk about how the reception has been from the high school coaches down in that area. I know its well documented when you first got here how difficult it was in Missouri to get in some doors. Can you just talk about what it’s been like so far? (Length: 1:59)
Number One Recruit: Gary what’s it like for a coach when you know you have a chance to get the number one recruit in the nation but you’re just not sure. I mean is it just like a draining thing on you for the last few weeks? (Length: 2:02)