Oklahoma Sooners: Dorial Green-Beckham

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Dorial Green-Beckham has joined Oklahoma’s football program after visiting the campus in Norman, Oklahoma, on Thursday. The former Missouri receiver is slated to sit out the 2014 season due to NCAA transfer rules but will likely try to get a waiver to be eligible to play immediately.

OU’s pursuit of Green-Beckham makes sense on many levels. The Sooners were one of the finalists for Green-Beckham when the receiver was making his final choice out of high school, OU is searching for proven playmakers at receiver and Green-Beckham’s talent is unquestioned.

Unless he allows his off-the-field struggles to continue to derail his future, Green-Beckham is a future NFL player. His physical gifts make him one of the top talents in college football with his tremendous size, athleticism and ball skills. There are no doubts he has the ability to change games with his talent.

Yet OU’s decision to add the elite receiver could end up being the wrong move.

Everyone deserves a second chance, and it’s too early to simply write Green-Beckham off as a troubled individual with no hope for the change that maturity and personal growth would bring. At 21 years old, he still has time to mature. Bob Stoops and the Sooners' coaching staff are banking on his maturation process going smoothly at OU.

But adding Green-Beckham to the mix brings distractions and questions that make it easy to ask the question: Is he worth it?

Although inexperienced, the Sooners are not in horrible shape at the receiver position. Junior receiver Sterling Shepard has the ability to put up numbers second to none in the Big 12 this fall and will enter the season as quarterback Trevor Knight's No. 1 target. Behind Shepard, the Sooners have several talented underclassmen with terrific potential, including sophomore Derrick Woods, redshirt freshman Jordan Smallwood and several others. The 2014 season is an opportunity for those receivers to grow, mature and improve.

Green-Beckham’s off-the-field problems are well-documented, and on the heels of Texas Tech’s dismissal of Nigel Bethel II for allegedly punching a Tech women’s basketball player, Green-Beckham’s addition could be considered a bad PR move for OU. Like it or not, it looks like OU is taking a “win-at-all-costs” mentality.

The Sooners will contend that is just surface-level conjecture. Under Stoops, the Sooners haven’t hesitated to give players second chances and strive to help instead of discard players when they run into off-the-field struggles. OU clearly believes it can help Green-Beckham by giving him a new environment and chance to redeem himself while he provides a significant boost to the team's national title pursuit. And the former Missouri receiver sounds like he understands he could be looking at his final chance.

“I appreciate this opportunity from Coach Stoops and the University of Oklahoma,” Green-Beckham said in a statement issued by the university. “There are people here who will help me build a strong foundation. I’ve disappointed myself and others in the past. I know that I have a lot of work to do and I’m ready to get started. OU is a great program and I feel privileged to be part of it.”

The Sooners have the talent to compete for national championships, even without the ultra-talented former Tiger, during the next few seasons. If the Sooners come up short in their title pursuits, it’s unlikely we’ll point to a lack of production from their receivers as the culprit. In addition, it’s quite possible Green-Beckham, regarded as a top prospect for the 2015 NFL draft, never plays a down in Norman if his waiver appeal for immediate eligibility is denied and he declares for the draft after sitting out the 2014 season.

Thus, there are major questions about the decision to add Green-Beckham, particularly with a best-case scenario that likely includes just one season of production from the Missouri native before he heads to greener pastures in the NFL.
National signing day is in the books, but that doesn’t mean Oklahoma is done with its 2012 class. But it does mean we’re allowed to start looking ahead to 2013 and 2014. Bob Przybylo answers all your recruiting questions. Have a question? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com

Ron in Tulsa, Okla., asks: I saw sophomore running back Devon Thomas was at junior day this weekend. What do you make of that?

Bob Przybylo: I saw that as a case of OU recognizing some home-grown talent and taking the early steps to make sure he doesn’t get away.

Not sure it would be accurate, but it wouldn’t be crazy to suggest that Devon Thomas (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow) will be the state’s best running back in 2013 as just a junior. At 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, he has the size of an elite runner. And if you’ve seen him in the open field, then you know he has the speed of a top back.

I believe OU will try to stay at home for 2014 at quarterback and running back as I could see Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) as the Sooners' likely quarterback option. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hansen was invited to junior day on March 3.


Will in Edmond, Okla., asks: I don’t want to assume, but Bob Stoops saying they might not be done has to be alluding to Davonte Neal, right?

[+] EnlargeDavonte Neal
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comDavonte Neal could take an official visit to Oklahoma this weekend.
Bob Przybylo: Yes, assume away on this one as I don’t see who else he could possibly be talking about than Davonte Neal (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral).

A couple of positive notes for Oklahoma came last week in which the Neal family denied Arizona was its final official visit here coming up. It doesn’t mean OU will be the final visit when it’s all said and done, but it’s a start.

Another good sign was Ohio State essentially dropping out of the Neal race. And all these visits Neal has taken (OSU, Notre Dame, Arkansas, North Carolina), the fact he doesn’t seem enamored by any of them is also good for the Sooners.

OU is holding a scholarship for the eighth-ranked player in the nation and already has sent him a letter of intent, like a few other schools. Now he just has to sign one of them.


Jason in Oklahoma City asks: Why do you think the Sooners were able to close as strong as they did with the 2012 class?

Bob Przybylo: Besides the fact that it seemed a lot of the seven commits OU picked up last week wanted to be Sooners, I attribute a lot of the success to the “Cali trio” of Brennan Clay, Kenny Stills and Tony Jefferson.

Those three bring a different dynamic to the campus that hasn’t been seen before. They host most of the recruits, and the hosted recruits normally bring up some story regarding one of the trio as a highlight of the trip.

That goes along with the atmosphere as it feels like the tone on campus is a lot different than what it was in December. The in-house cleaning has been done, the coaching situation is now stable and everybody appears to be on the right page again.

With all that said, that final weekend of going four-for-four will be remembered for a while with defensive end Michael Onuoha (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe), offensive tackle Will Latu (St. Petersburg, Fla./College of the Canyons), defensive back Zack Sanchez (Keller, Texas/Central) and wide receiver Courtney Gardner (Reno, Nev./Sierra College).


Charles in Shawnee, Okla., asks: Was there any recruit that OU had a realistic shot at but just messed it up for this class?

We took a look at full classes today, but now, we'll take a look at individual players.

Who are you most excited to see in the years to come? We'll include Mizzou and A&M recruits in this poll.

Johnathan Gray, RB, Texas

Gray comes to Texas as the national player of the year, the No. 2 overall recruit and top running back, as well as the record holder for career rushing touchdowns with 205. The shifty, powerful back was named Mr. Football USA by ESPNHS.

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri

Beckham was the biggest prize left late in the recruiting sweepstakes, and the nation's No. 1 receiver is headed to his home state's school, Mizzou. He, like Gray, was dominant at his position. He holds the national record for career high school receiving yards with 6,353 and caught 300 passes and 75 touchdowns in his career.

Trey Williams, RB, Texas A&M

Despite Gray's gaudy stats, there's at least a few folks who think Williams could be just as good or better. He heads to Aggieland via Houston as the nation's No. 5 running back and rushed for 3,890 yards on 427 carries, scoring 48 touchdowns as a senior. Not bad, eh?

Dominique Wheeler, WR, Texas Tech

Wheeler would love to be the next in a long line of great receivers from Texas Tech. He's the nation's No. 8 receiver and at 6-foot-1, 176 pounds, possesses 4.4 speed and a feel for space, with the ability to make plays in open space with the ball in his hands. He played some Wildcat QB in high school.

Trey Metoyer, WR, Oklahoma

Metoyer is on campus and enrolled for spring. He had to wait an extra year to enroll after failing to qualify and enrolling at military school, but the No. 8 receiver in the 2011 class was one of the top signees for the Sooners in 2011. Now, he'll get his chance and an extra spring to prepare at a position of need for OU.
Oklahoma receivers coach Jay Norvell did a terrific job landing arguably the top receiver class in the nation.

“I think it ranks pretty high; we got five of them and they’re all good players,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade any of them.”

[+] EnlargeDorial Green-Beckham
Denny Medley/US PresswireThe Sooners missed out on No. 1 receiver prospect Dorial Green-Beckham, who signed with Missouri.
Yet, it remained apparent he lamented the ones that got away -- Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo./Hillcrest) and Nelson Agholor (Tampa/Berkley Prep).

“I think we did some of the best recruiting jobs on guys that didn’t come,” Norvell said. “They just aren’t wired the right way sometimes. It is what it is. Sometimes you don’t vibe with people, sometimes they don’t get it.”

Norvell loved Agholor’s handling of the process, calling him classy while saying: “He was straight down the line, everything he said, he did.”

And he felt happy with the time he spent trying to secure Green-Beckham in the final days of the recruiting cycle.

“We had a great visit with Dorial in his house last week, one of the best I’ve ever had,” he said. “I can’t tell you what he was looking for, only he can tell you what he was looking for. Not us, I guess.”

Those disappointments didn’t overpower the joy of signing Durron Neal (St. Louis/DeSmet), Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma City, Okla./Heritage Hall), Derrick Woods (Inglewood, Calif./Inglewood), Courtney Gardner (Reno, Nev./Serra College) and Trey Metoyer (Chatham, Va./Hargrave Military).

“In the end you get the guys you’re supposed to get, you get the guys who want to be at Oklahoma,” said Norvell, who smoked a celebratory cigar after his signees faxed their letters of intent. “We want guys that want to be here.”
Dorial Green-Beckham’s decision is a blow for Oklahoma but not an unexpected one. The elite receiver prospect from Springfield, Mo./Hillcrest. announced he was going to Missouri over Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Green-Beckham is the No. 3 player on the ESPNU150 and No. 1 receiver in the nation.

What it means for the class: The Sooners should be fine without Green-Beckham. Commitments Durron Neal (St.Louis/DeSmet), Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma City, Okla./Heritage Hall) and Derrick Woods (Inglewood, Calif./Inglewood) have plenty of talent and spring enrollee Trey Metoyer, one of the top receivers in the Class of 2011 who spent one year in prep school, could be a difference-maker. In addition, junior college receiver Courtney Gardner could announce for the Sooners later today.

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Statistically, who needs Green-Beckham?

January, 30, 2012
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National Signing Day is a day away, and the nation’s top wide receiver recruit remains unsigned. Dorial Green-Beckham will announce his intentions at 10:15 A.M. ET on Wednesday, with many of the nation’s top programs looking on.

Green-Beckham has been described as a hybrid of Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones. At 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, he possesses the size and speed to be a significant deep threat and formidable red-zone target.

Any program in the nation would be happy to land Green-Beckham, but he has narrowed his list to five schools -- Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Alabama and Oklahoma –- all of which have significant holes at wide receiver.

So the question becomes, who needs Dorial Green-Beckham most?

Alabama has stocked up on wide receiver recruits in its 2012 class with five 4-star or 5-star recruits listed as ATH/WR. The Tide could use all of the help that they can get after losing their top four pass catchers from 2011. Most importantly, Alabama needs to find a top wide receiver to fill the void left by Julio Jones and Marquis Maze leaving in consecutive years.

Jones and Maze were targeted on almost half of Alabama’s passes thrown 20 yards or more in the air since the start of 2010, resulting in 15 receptions and five touchdowns. Green-Beckham’s downfield prowess would benefit AJ McCarron who improved his deep passing in the second half of last season.

Arkansas is the predicted landing spot for Green-Beckham by all seven ESPN experts polled. If he chooses to sign with the Razorbacks, Green-Beckham would fill one of the greatest wide receiver voids in the nation.

Arkansas is losing three of its top four wide receivers, including the school’s top two players in career receptions, Jarius Wright and Joe Adams. Wright and Adams combined for more receiving yards (1,769) than any other set of receivers in the SEC last season.

In fact, no SEC team had three wide receivers combine for more yards, receptions and touchdowns than Wright and Adams.

Missouri needs a second wide-receiver option behind T.J. Moe next season with TE Michael Egnew and WR Wes Kemp graduating. Moe has the second-most receiving yards in the Big 12 since the start of 2010 among returning players, but he is not known for his deep-threat ability.

Of his 146 receptions in the past two seasons, only 13 have gone for 25 or more yards. Green-Beckham’s downfield speed would lead to more big plays for the Tigers and open up underneath routes for Moe and others.

Oklahoma must replace FBS all-time leader in receptions, Ryan Broyles. Broyles was Oklahoma’s top target downfield, in the red zone, on third down and when opponents brought the blitz over the last two years.

Landry Jones struggled after Broyles’ injury in 2011, and despite landing three 4-star wide receiver recruits, a talent like Green-Beckham could fill the void left by Broyles.

Broyles had some of the strongest hands in college football, dropping just two passes in 417 pass attempts since the start of 2009.

According to scouts, Green-Beckham also has strong hands and the ability to snatch balls in traffic, which will be valuable in an Oklahoma offense that throws a lot of quick slants. Oklahoma has focused on replacing Broyles with three 4-star recruits committed for next season, but the addition of Green-Beckham will have an immediate impact on a team with national title hopes.

Texas could use Green-Beckham’s size in the red zone. The Longhorns completed just 32 percent of their passes with three touchdowns and two interceptions in the red zone during conference play last season, which was the worst completion percentage by any Big 12 team in the last five seasons.

When throwing into the end zone, Texas completed just 5-of-17 passes with two interceptions. Beckham’s 6’6” size and leaping ability would give Texas a target to drastically improve its red-zone passing offense.

ESPNU Signing Day Times

January, 30, 2012
1/30/12
11:55
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ESPNU's national signing day coverage kicks off at 9 a.m. ET. Here's the list of the announcements and time for some of the top prospects.

NOTE: Bold names are announcements, all others are interviews.

With just two days left before national signing day, Bob Przybylo answers all your recruiting questions. Have a question? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

Jerry in Norman, Okla., asks: Are we being set up for disappointment again in terms of getting involved with Davonte Neal?

[+] EnlargeDavonte' Neal
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comScottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal could take an official visit to Oklahoma after signing day.
Bob Przybylo: This year has certainly felt like the year of the “miss” when it comes to the big-time recruits that were legitimately on OU’s board. But right now not enough has happened for Sooners fans to get too down about Davonte Neal (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral). We will find out a lot more about Neal’s interest, or lack thereof, later this week when he decides where his final official visit is going to be.

It is clear from talking to Neal’s father, Luke, that this isn’t just some casual interest, though. The Neal family is so tight with OU linebackers coach Tim Kish that any connection means something. Neal is not wasting Kish’s time and vice versa.

Neal, a five-star prospect, has let it be known that he is going to wait until well after signing day, which should actually help the Sooners' chances. OU doesn’t have to play catch up in a week, especially a crazy week like this one. Kish is excited about being at OU. You know he wants to make a good first impression and getting Neal would be a great start.


Tommy in Dallas asks: It’s the final week. Where do the Sooners stand regarding wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham?

Bob Przybylo: It’s not looking good, especially after what sounds like a positive Missouri visit over the weekend for Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo./Hillcrest), the third-ranked prospect in the ESPNU 150. Green-Beckham was treated like a celebrity his entire time on the Tigers campus, and it’s tough to not let that affect you.

When it comes to his final four choices of OU, Missouri, Texas and Arkansas, the Sooners were the only team not to get an official visit. Despite a six-hour in-home visit last Monday, it definitely does not look good for OU.

It would be a major disappointment after all the time, effort and resources the OU staff has put into trying to land Green-Beckham. It’s possible that OU’s wide receiver class is so good that it won’t matter, but it’s also possible the class is so good that it made Green-Beckham look away.

Commit Durron Neal (St. Louis/De Smet Jesuit) thinks that might be the case as he said two weeks ago that OU’s receiving class was a concern for Green-Beckham because it was already too loaded.


Alex in Oklahoma City asks: I know we’re pumped for signing day, but 2013 is right around the corner with junior day on Saturday. What will be the storyline of Saturday?


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Thursday's episode of RecruitingNation

January, 26, 2012
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"RecruitingNation" airs at 5:30 p.m. ET today on ESPNU with host Dari Nowkhah and RecruitingNation's Tom Luginbill, Craig Haubert and Jamie Newberg.

RecruitingNation breaks down the top 10 players still undecided, including Dorial Green-Beckham, Davonte Neal, Andrus Peat and Eddie Goldman. The panel discusses why these players are important, where are they are likely to end up, and what it means for the teams that don’t get them.

The show will also feature results from ESPN The Magazine’s "Recruiting Confidential" poll of the top prospects in the nation. Who do the top players think is the nation’s best recruiter? Most over-rated recruiter? And, do they feel like they were being stalked through the recruiting process?

The show wraps up with a look at the top storylines for fans to follow as we count down to Feb. 1, national signing day.

We’re a week away from national signing day and with each day, Oklahoma’s 2012 class is starting to get more clear. There is still a lot to be determined at this point. Bob Przybylo answers all your recruiting questions. Have a question? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

Charles in Oklahoma City asks: Is Tim Kish a good hire in terms of recruiting?


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With more than a week until national signing day, there are still plenty of unanswered questions regarding Oklahoma’s 2012 class. Bob Przybylo answers all your recruiting questions. Have a question? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

Jon in Lawton, Okla., asks: I saw Colin Blake de-committed over the weekend. How good are OU’s chances with him?


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Pulling out all the stops for DGB 

January, 19, 2012
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It’s been an interesting week for Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo./Hillcrest). The nation’s top-ranked receiver and one of the most highly touted uncommitted players has been courted by the best coaches and has seen coaches go all out just to show their interest.

Case in point, Green-Beckham was visited earlier this week by Missouri coach Gary Pinkel -- who arrived at Hillcrest High School in a helicopter. It is believed that Missouri is neck and neck with Arkansas for Green-Beckham’s services. Officially, Green-Beckham has Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas as his final five schools.

A lot can be determined this weekend, as Green-Beckham is expected to take an official visit to Arkansas. This will be only his second official visit – Texas was the first in November – and it is known that the Razorbacks are a fan favorite to Green-Beckham’s younger brother, Darnell.

“With Arkansas, it’s the atmosphere. It’s football,” Green-Beckham said about the Razorbacks during the week of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. “Everybody likes to be around football there. It’s kind of like Dallas with the Cowboys. The whole atmosphere is unbelievable.”

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Another week, another big announcement regarding Oklahoma recruiting. Following back-to-back disappointing weeks with Mario Edwards (Denton, Texas/Ryan) and De’Vante Harris (Mesquite, Texas/Horn), Mike Stoops' return to the OU coaching staff brings good news for Sooners fans. Bob Przybylo answers your recruiting questions each week. Have a question? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.


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Though the recent departure of four-star cornerback De’Vante Harris (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) is a big blow to Oklahoma 2012 defensive backs class, it hasn’t really impacted the Sooners' standing in the rankings.

The Sooners dropped to No. 10 in the latest ESPN class rankings released on Thursday. But once again, it was a case of what another team did more than what OU failed to do.

California had a huge recruiting weekend, picking up one big-time commit after another at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and vaulted from No. 19 to No. 8.

In the last set of rankings, it was Georgia who scored some quality prospects to jump OU.

While it’s nice the Sooners haven’t fallen too far behind, it would be nice for OU fans if they had something to celebrate.

Nothing has changed with OU’s class, where clearly the strength of the group is on offense. The Sooners’ top 11-ranked recruits are on offense, including all four in the ESPNU 150.

And if the Sooners are going to make a leap up in the rankings, it will most likely happen because of the offense once again as OU is in the hunt for third-ranked prospect Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo./Hillcrest) and offensive tackle Zach Banner (Lakewood, Wash./Lakes), ranked No. 123. Green-Beckham's final five are OU, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri and Alabama, while Banner's top three are OU, USC and Washington.

The Sooners are also in the mix for a couple of three-star running backs in David Smith (Midlothian, Ill./Bremen) and Boston College commit Akeel Lynch (Athol Springs, N.Y./St. Francis). Both are making official visits to OU this weekend and Smith has narrowed his choices down to OU or West Virginia.

On defense the name to watch is cornerback Brandon Beaver (Compton, Calif./Dominguez). A four-star defensive back, Beaver is ranked No. 20 at the position and is making an official visit to OU next weekend.
Oklahoma wide receiver verbal commit Durron Neal (St. Louis/De Smet Jesuit) is ranked No. 8 in the nation at his position. He is ranked No. 3 in Missouri and No. 60 in the ESPNU 150.

So is it really possible for a four-star talent to have a chip on his shoulder? Yes, according to Neal.

[+] EnlargeDurron Neal
John Albright/Icon SMIOU receiver commit Durron Neal hopes his play on the field speaks for itself.
In any other recruiting class, Neal, 6-foot and 190 pounds, might be the talk of the position and certainly the talk of the Show Me State. But graduating in the same class as Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo./Hillcrest) has Neal relegated to playing second fiddle.

Green-Beckham, ranked No. 3 in the ESPNU 150, has dominated the headlines in Missouri and across the nation and has OU, Missouri, Texas, Arkansas and Alabama in his final five.

Neal doesn’t begrudge Green-Beckham and has actually spent a lot of time trying to recruit the No. 1-ranked receiver to join him at OU. Neal, however, feels like he is not getting his due credit, recently changing his Twitter name to “UnderratedNeal.”

“I’m not sure what else I can do,” Neal said about getting more recognition. “I can’t worry about that, though. All I can do is go out there and do what I can. Control what I can control.”

Neal was in total control last week as a member of the West team for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, and he was one of the most consistent performers during the week.

For Neal, he said it was an opportunity to show he belonged on a stage like, that he could compete with the best of the best. And represent his hometown.

“This week showed me it’s not about where you’re from. It doesn’t matter what state you come from,” Neal said. “If you can play, you can play. St. Louis has a bad reputation, but I wanted to show what 'The Lou' is all about.”


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