ST. LOUIS — Both quarterbacks say the change in position has changed the player. And because the two have spent every recent Mizzou practice throwing footballs to Dorial Green-Beckham, they are perhaps the best to ask.
“He has that look in his eyes that he wants the ball,” senior James Franklin says.
“It’s kind of stupid how good he can be out there,” adds redshirt freshman Maty Mauk.
Green-Beckham, the nation’s top recruit in 2012, enters his sophomore season having already experienced Southeastern Conference football. But it’s a tweak that links the receiver back to his record-setting prep career at Hillcrest High School in Springfield, Mo., that might prove more valuable. Mizzou has moved Green-Beckham from Y receiver to X receiver, a shift that frees him from the slot and places him closer to the sideline. Early returns have shown promise.
“It’s the same position I played in high school for four years,” Green-Beckham says. “I feel more comfortable moving back to the outside. I know exactly what I need to do on those type of outside plays.”
“That’s a better spot for me. Being on the outside, playing against smaller corners, being able to go vertical up and down the sidelines.”
became DGB — a five-star recruit immediately recognized by three
letters, a player courted by every major football program in the nation
— due to his proficiency for toasting secondaries for touchdowns. He
stepped onto campus in Columbia, Mo., with 6,353 receiving yards and 75
receiving touchdowns in his pocket. He also stepped into a brand new
position, one that allowed him to better navigate around entrenched
starters at outside positions, therefore expediting his wait for playing
time. But the inside never really felt like home. He caught 28
passes for 395 yards and five touchdowns in 2012.
“It’s not that he ever doubted himself talent-wise,” Franklin says of Green-Beckham’s stint at the Y position. “But sometimes he doubted himself about what route he had. He wasn’t really running confident. He was focusing on what the play was rather than — if the ball came his way — getting open.”
Near the edges of the field — against corners who struggle to deal with his combination of size (6 feet 6) and speed (a sub 4.4-second 40-yard dash) — is where Green-Beckham has always thrived. Now that he’s back in his comfort zone, Franklin and Mauk say the receiver is thinking less, and therefore playing better.
“He likes going on the corners, getting to the safeties,” Franklin says. “He likes having that sideline on his back. He seems a lot different. He seems more confident.”
“To see not just how comfortable he is, but how much fun he is having out there,” Mauk says. “He is able to make plays and go up and get balls, get out in open space and run with people. That’s his spot.”
The two quarterbacks should know as well as anyone. Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or email him at email@example.com.