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February 1, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, MO--Over the past nine months, John Beckham would conduct interviews with the media inside of his office in Hillcrest High School's football locker room.
Today, he sits back in a chair in the school's library, relaxed and calm. Students and parents walk back and forth, eating cake, drinking punch and adding an ever-present hum of background noise.
Let them listen as Beckham talks about the recruitment of his adopted son, Dorial Green-Beckham.
It's finally over. DGB is a Missouri Tiger.
An hour earlier, Green-Beckham announced his college decision to a national audience. In front of a crowded gymnasium, with a pep-band flanking him and news crews in front, Green-Beckham put the years of rumors, speculation and gossip to rest.
"This fall, I will be continuing my education at " Green-Beckham began.
He pulled a black Mizzou hat, with a snap back and a gold brim, out from under the table.
He didn't need to finish his sentence.
Green-Beckham cited distance from home and comfort level with the coaches, players and fans as the biggest reasons for his decision. For the first time, the nation's top recruit talked in detail about his recruitment and decision.
"It was the place for me," Green-Beckham said. "Just to stay home and to have all these people come out and watch me play.
"It's important for me to stay home and play for the Missouri Tigers."
He also said his family's support played a big role, but they never told him where to go.
"They felt real comfortable with my decision," Green-Beckham said. "After that, there were no questions asked."
According to both father and son, the decision was made on Monday. John Beckham said Dorial came home from school that day, and talked to his father and mother, Tracy Beckham. In the kitchen of the family's Springfield home, Dorial said he was ready to make a decision.
The parents asked Dorial to sleep on it, and make sure he felt the same way in the morning. On Tuesday, the answer was the same. The family began to make preparations for Wednesday's announcement. At that time, only John and Tracy knew of their son's decision.
Leading up to the decision, Green-Beckham visited Arkansas and Missouri on back-to-back weekends. John Beckham said his son never gave an inclination that he was ready to make a decision after the trip to Fayetteville.
"In his mind, I think he was going to take all his time," Beckham said. "They only stipulation I said was that he had to decide by today."
However, there were plenty of signals out there that Green-Beckham would pick Missouri. While at the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio, rumors spread that Green-Beckham spoke to other recruits about choosing Missouri. When John Beckham heard those rumors, he said he asked his son.
"He admitted that he was talking about Missouri," Beckham said on Wednesday.
In the public eye, those conversations remained rumors. That's the way it's been for most of Green-Beckham's oft-documented, rarely confirmed recruitment. In the past year, no member of the family ever went on record to name a leader, yet it was widely disseminated that Arkansas was the team to beat.
Even during his son's recruitment, John Beckham would scoff at those rumors. At any rumors, for that matter.
"You would be shocked about how little we talked about recruiting," Beckham said.
Of course, throughout the process, John Beckham had his thoughts. At different points, he thought Oklahoma or Arkansas led the pack. But all along, he thought Missouri would be in it until the end. In his heart, he thought Dorial would choose the Tigers.
"Most people, for whatever reason, didn't think Missouri was a serious contender," Beckham said. "But we, as a family, always knew they were right there."
His reasoning starts with trust. When Dorial and younger brother Darnell began living with the Beckhams around five years ago, it was a process to get the two brothers to trust the family. To trust that they would always have a place to stay. To trust that they wouldn't be abandoned. After bouncing around from home to home as young children, and seeing drugs, alcohol and jail time tearing their world apart, it's only natural that there's a reluctance to trust.
Before Green-Beckham's freshman year in high school, Missouri began recruiting him. David Yost, then the quarterbacks coach in Columbia, began to develop a relationship with the burgeoning star and his family. While Oklahoma and Arkansas also developed early relationships with the family, John Beckham said there was no doubt with whom his son was closest.
At a time in his life when he was learning to trust his new and future family, Green-Beckham began to trust Yost and Missouri's coaching staff.
"Because of his situation, it takes time for Dorial to trust someone," Beckham said. "You can't just come in and say, 'Hey, you can trust me.' That ain't gonna work. You have to build it up over time. I think, all the years they've been coming -- heck, they came to watch him play freshman basketball. Our athletic director made a joke that we should send them a Hillcrest letter jacket.
"At the end of the day, I really do think Dorial trusts Pinkel and the coaches. And he trusts that they're going to be there over the next four to five years, as long as he's there."
"The relationship with all the other coaches has been good," Green-Beckham said. "Growing up, my whole high school years, all the coaches have been great, fantastic to me, so I really enjoy all the coaching staffs."
On Tuesday, sure of his decision, Green-Beckham announced to the rest of his family that he would attend Missouri. Darnell, a sophomore at Hillcrest who was diagnosed with leukemia nearly a year ago, said he was happy with his brother's decision. From there, the family went out to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings in Springfield. Afterward, most members of the family came home and began to pick their outfits for Wednesday's announcement.
"It was like 10 o'clock and I said, 'Where's Dorial?,'" Beckham recalled. "And he was in his bed, sound asleep.
"You could tell, for him, it was over. Today was a good day."
Still, the rumors swirled this week. Oklahoma recruit Durron Neal said Green-Beckham attempted to get him to switch to the Tigers. A report from the Tulsa World on Monday said Green-Beckham would choose Missouri over Texas and Arkansas, citing anonymous sources. John Beckham denied the report, but said on Wednesday that it wasn't a lie.
"At that time, he hadn't told us he was going to Missouri," Beckham said. "There were signs, but he hadn't told us he made a decision."
Beckham said he regrets some things about the recruiting process, namely the end. Because of the televised announcement, secrecy was of paramount importance. It became a challenge to inform the remaining schools of the decision, because of concerns about the information leaking.
At least on message boards, however, Green-Beckham's decision was still in doubt. But, by the time fans were puffing out their chests about "inside" information, the nation's top recruit was sound asleep.
There weren't many signs on Wednesday morning that Missouri would land the nation's top player. Beckham wore a red tie with a white shirt, prompting many to read into his choice of attire. Afterward, he admitted that he only owns one tie.
"After this, I'm literally going to take off the shirt with the tie on it, hang it up, and then wear it again when I need to," Beckham jokingly said.
A news station in Springfield attempted to stake out bakeries to see which type of cake the Beckhams bought. Tracey, however, said they purchased four different cake tops, representing the four finalists.
"And we did that before the report," Tracy Beckham laughed. "We were smarter than that."
Now, the weight of the world is off of Dorial Green-Beckham and his entire family.
"It's a big relief," Green-Beckham said. "I'm real excited now.
It took Dorial Green-Beckham a lot longer than most to find his home. Now, he knows it will never leave him.
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