DGB’s push for a Heisman in 2014 starts right here, right now

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There are those who make plays
and those who make P-L-A-Y-S, all caps, the kind that get the desk
jockeys screaming on your television and make the kids at home want to
hop off the sofa and do the same.
 
Dorial
Green-Beckham, the Missouri receiver so cool he’s got a user-friendly,
marketing-friendly, social-media-friendly acronym, is firmly in the
latter camp. Actually, he’s one of its leading lights. When big No. 15
does something spectacular, it’s not just spectacular. It’s a slice of
wake-the-neighbors, run-to-Twitter, text-your-buddies utter
sickness.
 
It’s not hard to look good
playing football against the University of Kentucky; what
is hard is looking like the second coming of Megatron
in the process.  The Tigers’ sophomore sensation from
Springfield, Mo., caught four touchdowns in a single game back on
November 9 over in Lexington, almost all of them in the all-caps
club.
 
Things escalated awfully quickly,
too. It wasn’t long before everybody at home figured that, once in the
red zone, Mizzou was going to just lob a jump ball into the air and let
6-foot-6 DGB do his DGB thang. We all knew it was coming. Doubtless, the
Wildcats’ defensive staff and, indeed, the secondary themselves, knew
it was coming, too.
 
And they
still couldn’t stop
it.
 
That’s a whole other level of
helplessness, the ultimate dominance, the ultimate level of
good.
 
But is it, say, Heisman
Trophy
good?
 
For better or worse,
the campaign for the 2014 big bronze bad boy starts now, at the Cotton
Bowl on January 3, before a prime-time, national television audience
(FOX, 7 p.m.). Those 144 yards and two scores in Atlanta during the SEC
Championship just whet the audience’s appetite. DGB already has Joe
Public on the hook. Now he needs to reel us
in.
 
The Heisman battle is fought on
multiple, completely subjective levels, which is one of the reasons it
fascinates us still. You’ve got to be superlative, of course. (Check.)
You have to make the highlights, week after week.
(Check.)
 
A leg up in the preseason is nice,
but you need to finish strong — the voting bloc has remarkably short
memories. (DGB racked up seven touchdowns over his last four games, so,
check.) You need to put up big numbers against big-time opposition (Big
15 recorded 13 catches against Texas A&M and Auburn but just
five grabs, combined, versus Georgia and South Carolina). And your team
probably needs to be at least a peripheral player in the College
Football Playoff picture, if not one of the lead
dogs.
 
As to that last one, given home dates
against Central Florida and Georgia and road trips to South Carolina
(September 27), Florida  (October 18) and Texas A&M,
(November 15) the Tigers will certainly get their swings in. It just
remains to be seen how many of them actually
land.
 
There’s also the little matter of
history — which, for wideouts and the Heisman, runs the gamut from bad
to miserable.
 
No pure receiver — Charles
Woodson, remember, was a two-way freak  — has won the award
since Desmond Howard in 1991. The former Michigan star-turned-analyst
scored a crazy 21 touchdowns receiving (19) or rushing (two) and added
two more on returns.
 
The bar probably
starts there. Twenty touchdowns, minimum. Beckham’s career high is 12,
this season, with one tilt left to
go.
 
Although, given his relationship with
next fall’s presumed starter, Maty Mauk, it’s hard not to envision a
higher ceiling. Of the 10 touchdowns the freshman signal-caller tossed
during four starts in relief of James Franklin, five — half of them —
went to big No. 15.
 
He’s not just Option 1
in the red zone; he’s Option 1 and
1A.
 
“Right away, we all felt comfortable
(with Mauk),” DGB said earlier this year. “I mean, we all felt
comfortable when he’s in there.
 
“We go
through it at practice. He throws balls to us, so we know what type of
ball he’s going to throw. We know where his release is — all that
stuff. We study that stuff all day in
practice.”
 
Based on the statistics kept at
www.rotogrinders.com, DGB
ranks second among Mizzou receivers this past season in yards per times
targeted (or YPT, 9.3 to La’Damian Washington’s 10.4) and times
targeted per game (6.2 to Washington’s 7.2). Losing La’Damian is a
double-edged sword; the Tigers of 2013 have so many tall, rangy weapons
that can jump and catch and block that opposing defenses double one of
them at their own risk.
 
In 2014,
Green-Beckham won’t be a supporting player anymore; anytime the young
fella walks into an SEC stadium, it’s going to be with a big ol’ target
strapped across his back. Such is the price of stardom, the burden of
great expectations.
 
Great wingspan,
too.
 
“Six-foot-6 and runs like heck,” Mauk
said, admiringly, “(and) can go up and get the
football.”
 
At least he’ll be getting it in
the SEC, college football’s Broadway, under the bright lights, on the
biggest stage there is. Like the Big Apple, if you can make it there,
kid, you’ll make it
anywhere.
 
You can follow
Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at
seanmkeeler@gmail.com
.