COLUMBIA — Missouri football fans finally got to see what all the fuss was about.
Since receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the nation's top recruit according to Rivals.com, committed to the program in the spring, he hasn't made much noise. He spoke to the media only once during training camp as part of a new team policy restricting media access to first-year players.
Missouri offensive lineman Elvis Fisher is expected to return this week against Vanderbilt after missing three games with a strained right knee ligament.
Fisher is listed atop the depth chart at left tackle, but coach Gary Pinkel said he isn't sure how long Fisher will be able to stay in the game.
Fisher, who was still wearing a knee brace Monday, injured his knee against No. 5 Georgia on Sept. 8 in a pileup and needed to be carted off the field.
The senior says doctors told him surgery was not required and that the recovery time would be about four weeks. Fisher kept his leg immobile for the first 10 days and started stretching it thereafter.
With Fisher, Missouri may have four first-string linemen starting for the first time this season. Jack Meiners is listed as questionable with a bruised knee, but Pinkel also expects him to be able to play. Left guard Travis Ruth has missed the entire season so far after undergoing surgery in August to repair a torn left triceps tendon, and there is no timetable for his return.
Fisher missed the 2011 season after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament during the preseason, gaining a sixth year of eligibility. He started every game from 2008-10.
Missouri punt returner Marcus Murphy was named co-Special Teams Player of the Week after he returned a punt 66 yards for a score against UCFCentral Florida. Murphy shared the award with Alabama's Cristion Jonescq, who returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown in the Crimson Tide's victory over Ole Miss.
Murphy also earned SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors after Week 1 when he returned two punts for scores against Southeastern Louisiana.
— Staff and wire reports
Then, in the first four games of the season, there just wasn't much to talk about for the 6-foot-6, 220 pound freshman. Green-Beckham was hardly involved in the offense, catching just six passes for a total of 48 yards during that span.
That all changed with one play Saturday in Missouri's 21-16 win at Central Florida.
Early in the the second quarter, junior quarterback James Franklin found an open Green-Beckham with a pass down the right side of the field. Green-Beckham brought in the ball, bounced off a Central Florida defender near midfield and glided all the way to the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown.
"It didn't look like he was trying real hard to run through and away from everybody, he just did," Missouri offensive coordinator David Yost said. "That's the talent he has."
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel thought the same thing watching the receiver. Even Green-Beckham admitted that as he ran to the end zone Saturday, he was not in a full-out sprint, but "a stride."
"He's one of those guys too that when he's running, you don't think he's running that fast except nobody can catch him," Pinkel said. "Nobody's within 10 yards of him in the game. And that's happened on our practice field too."
It's what Green-Beckham does at practice that has Yost eager to get the talented freshman more involved. The team was certainly glad to see Green-Beckham reach the end zone for the first time, but Yost said they should have gotten him the ball even more. Although he was targeted other times, the 80-yard touchdown was Green-Beckham's only catch of the game.
"He's so talented," Yost said. "We've got to get him the ball more. We've got to give him more opportunities. I think he showed that in that game what he can do once he gets the football."
Green-Beckham was happy to finally score, but he didn't exactly react like it when he reached the end zone. He simply dropped the ball and headed to the sideline before teammates jumped all over him. Green-Beckham didn't have much of a celebration.
"It's just who I am," he said. "You've just got to stay calm."
And he did. While Green-Beckham did admit that he was relieved to finally have a big play, he has kept himself calm throughout the season so far, even through the Tigers' struggles. In the game against South Carolina, Green-Beckham's only catch came late in the game and went for just 9 yards. Headed into Week 5, the former five-star prospect had yet to score a touchdown.
"I'm sure he's been hearing about it," Yost said. "I'm sure he gets emails about it."
Green-Beckham credited his teammates and coaches for helping him stay focused.
"They just stuck with me. Just told me to keep playing," Green-Beckham said. "Everything is going to come my way eventually."
Green-Beckham said he expected it to be tough when he committed to Missouri, but he hasn't given up on the season. He thinks the big play at Central Florida showed what the Tigers' offense it is capable of. Green-Beckham is putting the tough losses against Georgia and South Carolina behind him.
"Those games, we're not really going to think about that," Green-Beckham said. "We can really have a blowout season this year if we just continue to do things right and just keep playing."