COLUMBIA — It’s not usually something to cheer about, a high school senior emerging from the backseat of a van.
But when Dorial Green-Beckham stepped out in front of the Mizzou Athletic Training Complex on Friday, he had about 80 fans there to celebrate his grand exit from the vehicle.
Green-Beckham, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound wide receiver at Hillcrest (Springfield) High School and one of the top football recruits in the nation, must have been prepared for the “M-I-Z, D-G-B” chants, the blown up posters of his face and the college students — some four or more years older than him — hurriedly stepping out of his way and clearing a path for him to take.
He still seemed slightly uncertain how to handle it. With a blank expression and hands in his coat pockets, Green-Beckham looked around — at the people lining the curb in front of him, at the banners flapping along the Providence walking bridge ramp behind him, at the two event staff employees and a security guard.
Then he smiled and walked up to offensive coordinator David Yost. They shook hands, and Green-Beckham draped an arm around him. Along with Green-Beckham’s family, they walked into the training center. The crowd followed.
On Wednesday, Feb. 1, Green-Beckham will sign a letter of intent to play college football. He is reportedly considering the University of Alabama, the University of Arkansas, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Texas and Missouri, with Arkansas and Missouri rumored to be the frontrunners.
On Tuesday the Antlers student fan group, following a tip, tweeted that Green-Beckham would be arriving for his official Missouri visit at 4 p.m. on Friday.
MU students cared enough to skip class, stood out in sub-40 degree weather and waved posters pleading Green-Beckham to, among other things, "Stay home, True Son."
Some recognized the peculiarity of the scene, but they said that's what being a fan is about.
"I'm kind of embarrassed about even showing up," junior Cyrus Meller said. "It's ridiculous that somebody from high school can get this much publicity. But it's all right, I want to show my support."
Junior Kyle Tons noted that they were cheering for a kid who does not even have a high school degree yet.
"I think it's funny that he's already more famous than I might ever be," Tons jokingly said. "(But) he's the best recruit in the country, and he's from Missouri, and I'm hoping we can show him what Missouri's all about and influence his decision."
Green-Beckham visited Arkansas last weekend, and Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel met Green-Beckham on Jan. 18 in Springfield via helicopter.
What the students outside the training center on Friday lacked in theatrics they made up with artwork. Three girls from the Delta Delta Delta sorority brought a sign that said, "Tri Delta loves DGB."
"This is awesome," sophomore Hannah Marcott said. "He probably feels like a big celebrity."
"I hope he feels special," Marcott's friend, Rachel Clubb, responded. "Because we want him."