The "marginal interest" between Oklahoma and former standout Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, as first reported by Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman, turned out to be far more than marginal after all.
Carey Murdock of SoonerScoop.com reported Thursday morning that Green-Beckham was on campus visiting with Sooners coaches. Other reporters like Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman picked up on the news, and soon the story turned into a stakeout of sorts outside OU's practice facilities.
A short while later, Oklahoma announced Green-Beckham was officially a member of the team. In an email statement, Green-Beckham said he would make the most of his new opportunity with Bob Stoops and the Sooners:
I appreciate this opportunity from Coach Stoops and the University of Oklahoma. There are people here who will help me build a strong foundation. I've disappointed myself and others in the past. I know that I have a lot of work to do and I'm ready to get started. OU is a great program and I feel privileged to be part of it. The university has made the expectations clear and I want to live up to them and be a positive part of the campus and team. I also want to thank Coach Gary Pinkel and the University of Missouri.
The whole story led to some confusion, voiced by John Infante of AthleticScholarships.net, as to whether Green-Beckham was even allowed to meet with OU coaches at all, given that it's a dead period:
However, Infante later explained that there are loopholes to this dead period, the most likely of which is the following:
Second is if Green-Beckham signed a financial aid agreement with Oklahoma. Then dead periods do not apply. And because Green-Beckham is not a midyear enrollee intending to graduate high school early, this interpretation does not apply. So Oklahoma is not at risk for a violation of the letter of intent restrictions if Green-Beckham does not ultimately enroll at OU.
Now that Green-Beckham is a member of the Sooners, the question is whether he plays this year or next. The wideout would need a waiver from the NCAA (via Infante) to be eligible this season since this would still be considered a transfer.
Green Beckham was involved in two previous drug-related incidents at Missouri, as well as an alleged assault incident that ultimately led to his dismissal. How that would translate into a "hardship" worthy of a waiver remains to be seen.
(Hint: It doesn't.)
In theory, Green-Beckham could practice with the Sooners this year if he doesn't receive a waiver and bolt for the NFL next spring. However, that would defeat the purpose of bringing Green-Beckham on to begin with, and that may not sit well with NFL teams who want to see that he's matured.
According to ESPN's Joe Schad, Oklahoma admitted Green-Beckham under a zero-tolerance policy:
Regardless of whether Green-Beckham sees the field this year or next, he brings a legitimate playmaker to the passing game—which, as it so happens, Oklahoma needs.
As a sophomore for the Tigers, the former No. 1 overall recruit of 2012 caught 59 passes for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns. That's nearly 300 yards more than Oklahoma's leading returning receiver, Sterling Shepard. And at 6'6" and 225 pounds, Green-Beckham has about eight inches and 30 pounds on Shepard.
In short, Green-Beckham would give the Sooners another weapon in the downfield/red-zone department.
With the departures of Jalen Saunders, Jaz Reynolds and Lacoltan Bester, the wide receiver group was Oklahoma's biggest question mark on offense. Adding Green-Beckham would take some pressure off quarterback Trevor Knight as he continues to develop as a passer.
Green-Beckham could be viewed as the so-called "missing piece" for an Oklahoma program with College Football Playoff aspirations. Even if he doesn't play until next year, he'll still be a part of a young offense that has a lot of talent and room to grow at the skill positions.
The key for Green-Beckham—and Oklahoma's coaches have undoubtedly told him this—is to keep himself in line. Talent is often awarded second, third and fourth chances, and Green-Beckham is as talented as they come. So he's getting another shot at a program that recruited him out of high school—a shot he's shown he doesn't deserve.
If he blows this opportunity, he could start running out of good ones. But if Green-Beckham cleans up his act, he can be an important part of what could be another championship run in Norman.