COLUMBIA - No one ever said Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham was an ordinary football recruit.
His presence on campus was anticipated more than any player in recent memory. He was shielded from the media as much as possible and had immediate expectations placed on him few players, if any, likely could have lived up to.
So after a freshman season in which the receiver made more headlines off the field than on, the former top-ranked recruit is confident he's made strides to become a better receiver.
"I'm getting a lot more comfortable as each practice goes by," Green-Beckham said.
The sophomore-to-be made three catches for 49 yards in Saturday's Black and Gold Game at Faurot Field. It was the culmination of Missouri's spring practice, a period in which Green-Beckham made clear strides. He quickly moved to the first team and caught eight passes for 135 yards and a touchdown in an earlier spring scrimmage.
He was named Missouri's most improved receiver during halftime of Saturday's scrimmage.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel credited the hard work Green-Beckham has put in off the field.
"Dorial has had a great spring, he's a different player now," Pinkel said. "That's what Dorial's showing now is he can be that different-level guy."
But Green-Beckham's improvement in the spring also could be credited to a tactical change on offense.
After playing mostly in the slot position last year, Green-Beckham has moved to the outside left position, which is where he played in high school.
And now under new offensive coordinator Josh Henson, receivers are staying on the same side of the field so they don't have to expend as much energy crossing the field to line up between plays. It also helps Missouri line up faster to keep defenses off-balance.
"Now that I'm back on the outside, I mean, just moving from the inside back to the outside that I played in high school, it comes back to me what I did in high school," he said. "So I know exactly what to do to make that play that is going to happen."
Green-Beckham was anointed as special before he ever caught a pass for the Tigers last season. He had 300 receptions and 75 touchdowns in four years at Hillcrest High School in Springfield. But the transition from high school to college wasn't as fast as most people expected. He struggled much of his freshman season before turning it on late. He finished the year with 28 catches for 395 yards and a team-high five receiving touchdowns.
But there also was his arrest for possession of marijuana and subsequent one-game suspension prior to the Tigers' 19-15 home loss to Vanderbilt.
That took attention away from Green-Beckham's contributions on the field.
But with a year under his belt, Green-Beckham seems confident he's ready to have a breakout season for the Tigers.
"I learned the speed of the game, just playing fast," Green-Beckham said. "Moving from high school to college, it's a whole different aspect of coming into the game. Coming in you've just got to play fast no matter what and show why you chose Missouri and why you came to play."