When wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham signed with the Missouri Tigers, it was a very big deal.
On the eve of Missouri moving to the SEC, signing the top high school player in the country was thought to be a program-changing event for the Tigers, and just what they needed to help them compete in the nation’s toughest conference. However, Green-Beckham has not changed the Missouri program after one season, and no one should expect him to.
For starters, it’s rare for one recruit to significantly alter an entire program. Something like that is far more common in college basketball than college football because of the smaller roster sizes in basketball. It usually takes an entire recruiting class full of talented players, if not multiple recruiting classes, to completely change the course of a college football program.
Even with Green-Beckham, Missouri’s recruiting class in 2012 paled in comparison with others around the SEC, meaning the Tigers need more recruits like him if they expect to truly change the course of the program.
Green-Beckham also plays the wrong position to be a program-changing player. In the SEC, wide receivers are rarely game breakers. The right quarterback could certainly turn a program around. A running back could also be a program-changer in a conference like the SEC because they are able to touch the ball far more frequently than receivers.
A talented pass rusher might also have a chance to change a program because a great pass rush can carry an entire defense and cover up deficiencies elsewhere on the team, but a wide receiver simply doesn’t have enough opportunities to touch the ball and impact a game on a weekly basis to carry a program to a whole new level.
Green-Beckham had a nice freshman season with 28 catches and five touchdowns, but he hardly changed a Missouri program that finished with a disappointing 5-7 record and there’s no reason to think he will over the next three seasons. He’ll be a good wide receiver, and he may even become one of the best in the conference when all is said and done, but with or without him, Missouri will spend the next three years struggling to be an average SEC team. It’ll take a lot more than Green-Beckham to change that.