COLUMBIA, Mo. • With just seven catches to show for his first seven games at Mizzou, Dorial Green-Beckham’s much-anticipated Mizzou debut season was on trajectory to being a major disappointment given that he came to MU as the nation’s top-ranked recruit.
In some circles, that notion prevailed even after the season.
But Green-Beckham actually stemmed the trend and moved toward his potential with 21 catches for 267 yards in MU’s last five games, including the game-tying TD and another in overtime of Mizzou’s 51-48 quadruple overtime win at Tennessee.
And he’s finding his stride all the more now, as he demonstrated Saturday in MU’s most recent scrimmage with eight catches for 135 yards – including a 50-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
“I do think he’s a lot different player now,” Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel said Tuesday, noting DGB’s maturation and adding, “You saw him out there Saturday. He changes games, and he’s playing like that now. So it’s really exciting.”
Doing it consistently in real games is another matter, of course, but Pinkel figures Green-Beckham will benefit not only from his own growth but presumably more stability around him this season than last.
MU’s inaugural season in the harsh Southeastern Conference was marked by constant flux because of injuries on the offensive line and to quarterback James Franklin, a senior-to-be who now is in competition with sophomore-in-waiting Corbin Berkstresser and redshirt freshman Maty Mauk for the job.
One way or another, that “turmoil,” as Pinkel called it, contributed to the Tigers finishing 5-7 overall and 2-6 in SEC play.
And Pinkel contends the circumstances hindered the growth of Green-Beckham, among others.
“If we had a healthy offensive line (and) we had a quarterback who played every game like most every other year I’ve been coaching for 34 years ... I would suggest (DGB) would have had much better numbers, as a lot of people would have,” Pinkel said.
VOCAL IS FOCAL
A point of emphasis this spring, Pinkel said, has been on “vocal leadership.” After last season, Pinkel said returning players felt there had been a void in that area in 2012. There was good leadership, he stressed, but added, “I just heard from our players we’d like our leaders to say more, so that’s when we got out and found some concepts and fundamentals of teaching skills of vocal leadership. So if you don’t want to lead (vocally), it doesn’t matter if you don’t want to lead vocally – guess what, we need you to lead, and this is how you do it.”
MU concludes spring practice Saturday with the Black and Gold game, set for 1 p.m. at Faurot Field.
With multiple stadium improvement projects underway, Pinkel one way or another will have a different perch on this spring game than his customary view from above. “There will be no press box Saturday; I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said, laughing.