Every time Dorial Green-Beckham leaps over a defensive back in the end zone, a cash register bell rings. It’s like the end of the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” starring Gary Pinkel as George Bailey and Henry Josey as Clarence.
Missouri 48, Kentucky 17.
We jest. A little. Green-Beckham, the 6-foot-6 sophomore who was the No. 1 prep recruit in the country two years ago, lived up to every vertical inch of that enormous potential Saturday, catching four touchdown passes in Lexington, a new school record.
Then, after he was done, John Calipari raced onto the field to try and sign him up.
OK, we made that last part up.
But the history — the history is legit, the history still stands. DGB topped the old Mizzou standard of three scoring grabs, a mark tied most recently by Danario Alexander against Kansas State in November 2009.
“There’s a physical mismatch against every team he plays,” said Pinkel, coach of the 9-1 Tigers, lead dogs in the SEC East race and now 4-0 on the road for the first time since 1979.
Green-Beckham has snared five touchdown catches now in his past two games, which matches the kid’s entire season total of 2012. He’d grabbed four scores over the season’s first eight weeks.
“He’s a beast,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops told reporters.
Saturday’s third touchdown was arguably the beast’s biggest beauty, the one destined for the highlight rounds, a keeper that words hardly do justice.
But we’ll try.
With 6:13 left in the third quarter and Missouri up 28-10, Green-Beckham took a “go” route up the left boundary, stopped a few steps beyond the near left pylon and looked back quickly. Realizing the ball from quarterback Maty Mauk was a bit underthrown, the Springfield, Mo., native stopped and — turning his body back toward the pass — leapt high to retrieve it, catching the rock over the back of Kentucky defensive back Eric Dixon, who couldn’t see it.
The defender never even bothered to turn and look for the pigskin, and instead chose to attempt to drag DGB back down to earth. At that point, Green-Beckham did something even more impressive, pulling the ball back in over Dixon’s helmet and into his chest, cradling it carefully even as they crashed hard into the end zone together.
“He was the man out there,” tailback Henry Josey told the Columbia (Mo.) Tribune. “There was nobody that was going to stop him.”
In a flash, DGB was the king of CoMo, the prince of social media. In 140 characters or less, the questions were proffered: The next Megatron? The best on a fade since Randy Moss?
(As an aside, be careful what you tweet: The hashtag #DGB was trending Saturday afternoon, but that particular three-letter combo — ahem — also happens to be used by a rap side called “Dirty Glove Bastard.” Although if you’re one of the poor saps trying to cover Green-Beckham in the end zone, either term might actually apply.)
In fact, DGB’s performance was so good, it overshadowed five touchdowns from Mauk, three scores by Josey and a return game that changes names but keeps on clicking.
The afternoon wasn’t flawless — the Tigers still show a vulnerability to the screen game and draws; kicker Andrew Baggett can’t seem to shake the yips; and DGB’s right ankle got rolled when a lineman fell on it. But it was workmanlike, businesslike, a collective effort.
It takes all cylinders. And the Tigers keep marching purposefully toward Atlanta, clicking on nearly every stinking one of them.
Even senior quarterback James Franklin got a chance to shake the rust off, setting the stage for what’s expected to be a start at Ole Miss in two weeks. For the moment, though, center stage belongs to his biggest target.
At one point, Green-Beckham was reportedly asked during the postgame mike-fest: Can any corner stop you on a fade route?
“No,” DGB replied. “Not at all.”
One new record in the books. And you can’t shake the feeling, health and the good Lord willing, that it won’t be his last.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at email@example.com.