NORMAN — A little more than two years ago, Oklahoma was a major player in the Dorial Green-Beckham sweepstakes.
Green-Beckham, a five-star wide receiver prospect considered the nation’s best player in the recruiting class of 2012, ultimately picked Missouri and compiled 87 catches, 1,278 yards and 17 touchdowns in two seasons with the Tigers.
After two marijuana-related arrests and an investigation into Green-Beckham allegedly forcing his way into an apartment and assaulting an 18-year-old woman, though, Tigers coach Gary Pinkel dismissed the star receiver on April 11.
Green-Beckham was never charged in the incident, but issued a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after his dismissal acknowledging his immaturity.
“I have been young and dumb,” Green-Beckham said in the statement. “I want to be better. During my suspension I’m entering counseling. With help, I know I can be stronger emotionally and spiritually.”
After early reports that Green-Beckham was transferring to Eastern Illinois — an FCS school that would give him immediate eligibility in 2014 — CBSSports.com reported in late May that he was now considering skipping next season altogether and entering the 2015 NFL Draft.
Sources with knowledge of Green-Beckham’s situation have indicated there’s at least marginal interest in bringing the troubled superstar to Oklahoma. Here are three reasons the possible transfer would make sense, and three reasons it wouldn’t:
Reasons it makes sense
1. Existing relationships: OU head coach Bob Stoops and co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell established good relationships with Green-Beckham and his family during the recruiting process. That familiarity might give the Sooner coaches special insight into Green-Beckham and some reason to believe he isn’t a lost cause and could, under the right circumstances, flourish both on and off the field.
2. OU receiver needs: The Sooners need wide receivers. OU lost starters Jalen Saunders, Lacoltan Bester and Jaz Reynolds, and senior-to-be Trey Franks chose to end his football career with a year of eligibility remaining. The only Sooner receiver with any significant experience returning in 2014 is junior Sterling Shepard, although it would seem highly unlikely that Green-Beckham would be immediately eligible in Norman.
3. Green-Beckham’s immense talent: The 21-year-old caught 59 passes for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore last season. He caught six balls for 144 yards and two scores in the Tigers’ SEC Championship Game loss to Auburn. He’s got the on-field skills to star in Oklahoma’s offense. Sometimes talent of that magnitude can make coaches take risks that might seem crazy to the outside world.
Reasons it doesn’t make sense
1. Past experience: The Sooners’ recent experience with troubled superstar wide receivers — Josh Jarboe and Trey Metoyer — should give everyone serious pause about bringing in a player with Green-Beckham’s reputation. In Jarboe’s case, Stoops’ staff even gave him a second chance after he brought a gun onto his high school campus and was sentenced to two years of probation. Stoops dismissed Jarboe after his profanity- and violence-laced rap video went viral just after he arrived in Norman. Metoyer was kicked off the team after being arrested on two indecent exposure counts. College football coaches often believe they can save troubled players, and that is certainly admirable. But some guys simply aren’t worth the risk.
2. OU’s reputation: The University of Oklahoma’s and Bob Stoops’ reputations when it comes to player misconduct remain, for the most part, sterling. Stoops doesn’t and never has tolerated malfeasance. Of course, if Green-Beckham arrives, changes his life and flourishes on the football field, Stoops and the school would be seen as saviors, and rightfully so. But does the school really want to stake its reputation on a player with Green-Beckham’s notoriety? The coaches also have to consider adding Green-Beckham within the context of Frank Shannon. Shannon, the team’s leading tackler last season, was recently investigated on a sexual assault complaint. Although the district attorney declined to prosecute the case, OU could still issue its own punishment after its Title IX investigation is completed. Does the University of Oklahoma really want its football program stained by multiple allegations of violence against women?
3. Eligibility issues: Green-Beckham was already considering skipping the 2014 season and preparing for next year’s NFL Draft. He never redshirted at Mizzou and could, in theory, redshirt next season in Norman and have two years of eligibility remaining. Such a scenario might be exactly what Green-Beckham needs — time to adapt to new surroundings and get his life together while still practicing. After a redshirt year, he could have a monster 2015 season in OU’s offense with a quarterback like Trevor Knight, who will only get better by then. But would a star of Green-Beckham’s status be willing to wait a whole year before playing college ball again? I see no scenario under which the NCAA would grant him a waiver for immediate eligibility, so the only way he plays at Oklahoma is after a redshirt year.