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December 13, 2011

Green-Beckham handling life's challenges

ARMY BOWL: All-Americans | Selection Tour | The Ride

(Clips from Dorial Green-Beckham's senior season)

NEW YORK - Dorial Green-Beckham's incredible senior season - 119 catches for 2,233 yards and 24 touchdowns - may become the new measuring stick for greatness for a high school wide receiver.

The obstacles he overcame to achieve it may be more impressive.

It wasn't just going into every game with the pressure of being the nation's No. 1 recruit - or knowing that he was the focal point of every opponent's defense. Many top kids have to deal with that.

Green-Beckham took the field each week for Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest knowing what his younger brother Darnell was going through off it.

Darnell was diagnosed with Leukemia last February. And while his prognosis is now good, Green-Beckham said his brother's situation has impacted him greatly.

"Since my brother has gone through cancer, I have been a better person for him and for everybody in our whole community," he said. "It was tough to think that my little brother has Leukemia, so I've been doing things for him, doing things for my family and doing things for the people that have followed me since back when I was in middle school."

Dorial and Darnell, who is two years Dorial's junior, have a uniquely close relationship. Darnell's diagnosis is just the latest event in their childhood.

The two moved out of an unstable situation with their mother into the home of Hillcrest head coach John Beckham and his family when Dorial was in the eighth grade.

"Being in the Beckham family made me a better person and a better role model for younger kids," Green-Beckham said.

Dorial and Darnell added Beckham's name to their own. They had a family, they had a home, they had stability ... and then they got the diagnosis.

Having been through so much already, Dorial knew family came first. So while other top players were picking up their recruiting process, he slowed his down.

"Hearing about it was tough for me to go through the first couple weeks, and the first couple months, actually," Green-Beckham said. "It's been real tough to go through the whole Leukemia process, but a whole lot has been accomplished since then."

Other than regular checkups, treatments are finished and Dorial said the current prognosis is that his brother will be free and clear of the disease by the time he enters his senior year of high school.

"Things are going real well for him," Green-Beckham said. "He's playing basketball with me this year. He didn't get to play the first couple games, but he's trying to work his way back into shape so he can play in games later in the season."

That Darnell Green-Beckham is already involved in sports is a great development. His brother's improving condition still does not explain how Dorial was able to bounce back from a tumultuous off-season to put together one of the greatest high school football seasons ever, though. That can only be explained by Green-Beckham's intense focus, preparation and determination.

The Hillcrest staff moved Green-Beckham all around the offense this past season, just to find ways to get their playmaker the football and counter defensive schemes deployed to stop him. He would line up in the slot, in the backfield, on the outside, even at quarterback in a Wildcat formation. Hillcrest finished the season with an 11-2 mark, and Dorial finished his high school career with a national record 6,356 receiving yards.

Selecting a college

Green-Beckham, in town for a U.S. Army event for some of its Player of the Year candidates, doesn't know how many scholarship offers he has received in the last three years. He does know the final five schools that will vie for his services: Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

The NCAA allows prospective college student-athletes five official visits during the course of their recruitment; Green-Beckham took his first one to Texas the weekend of Nov. 19.

"I got to meet Johnathan Gray, the No. 1 running back, and a couple other players there," Green-Beckham said "It was a real fun deal to meet those players, be in that facility and see what a Texas football game is really like."

Texas dropped their contest with Kansas State the weekend Green-Beckham was on his official visit to Austin, but the outcome of the game had no bearing on his impression of the program.

"Their program is really good, and you can't look at it as, 'They lost, so I'm not going to go there,'" he said. "A lot of things can happen, and you never know, they could win a national championship next year. You can't judge a team by one game."

There had been discussions with Oklahoma about taking an official visit to Norman this coming weekend, but when Green-Beckham discussed his plans Monday afternoon for the next seven weeks, no official visits were set in stone.

"It really doesn't matter if I [take the remaining official visits] or not," Green-Beckham said. "I've been to those schools before; I know what they are like. I could still take some if I really need to."

Later that evening, after he had finished with the Heisman Dinner Gala on his U.S. Army Player of the Year Tour in New York City, Green-Beckham spoke with Oklahoma assistant coach Jay Norvell, and he was leaning towards making the trip to Norman this weekend following that phone call.

Things in the recruiting game can change that quickly.

In recent months, the one team that seems to be trending highest in Green-Beckham's recruitment is Arkansas. The campuses of Missouri and Arkansas are both short drives from his home in Southwest Missouri, but Arkansas actually is a little closer.

"I've been down there several times and that atmosphere is really nice," Green-Beckham said. "There are a lot of Arkansas fans in Springfield. My principal likes Arkansas, and my track coach likes Arkansas, but they don't try to sway me. They just want me to do what is best for me.

"Staying close affects [the decision] a little bit, but it's going to be whatever best works out for me. If I have to stay close to home, then I'll stay close to home. But if there is something else out there for me, I'm going to have to do what is best for the family."

Green-Beckham said he is not swayed toward any particular school at this time. There is a month and a half remaining until National Signing Day, and he has not settled on which one will receive his signed letter of intent.

"Everything is even between all those schools right now," he said. "I just have to wait to get that feel. I haven't gotten that feel yet but I know it is catching on. Whenever it does, I'll just decide."

When asked what will be the most important factor outside of getting that feeling, Green-Beckham said it will be hearing what his family thinks. He wants to hear their pros and cons about each program, and their insight will play heavily into his final decision.

Green-Beckham already has proven he can overcome challenges and continue achieving greatness. Few challenges he faces in life will compare with what he has dealt with in the last 10 months. He says it has helped him become a better person and given him a perspective on life and family and helping those around him.

"I've just been trying to do the right thing for the right people and make everybody proud of me," he said.

Where the next chapter of Green-Beckham's story will be written remains to be seen.

The college football world may have to wait until National Signing Day to see where the No. 1 football prospect decides take his talents, but for the five schools still in contention, it will be worth the wait.

Dorial Green-Beckham is that type of person. On and off the field.

Stay tuned to Rivals.com for more updates from the New York City U.S. Army Player of the Year Tour.



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