Sophomores don’t win national Athlete of the Year awards.
It just doesn’t happen.
It takes at least three years to refine skills, gain trust and confidence, and build developing bodies to compete with the nation’s elite – a vast pool picked from more than 25,000 high schools.
But the physical prowess of 6-foot-6, 218-pound Dorial Green-Beckham of Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.), and his remarkable 2009-10 sophomore season, was just too spectacular to ignore.
And, unlike his gifted and accomplished competition at the top of the national pool, Green-Beckham leaped tall in three sports. He was no one- or two-trick pony.
The Hillcrest 10th-grader was a three-sport thoroughbred. A bonafide trifecta. That is largely why he is the 2009-10 MaxPreps Male Athlete of the Year. He beat out a stable of magnificent athletes, all two school years his senior.
“In this age of specialization where kids are asked to start focusing on one sport, it’s nice to see a kid excel the old-fashioned way,” said Hillcrest football coach John Beckham, also Green-Beckham’s adopted dad. “Whatever season it is, Dorial just goes out to play.”
“Play” is a relative term. “Dominate” is more like it.
Consider his 2009-10 free-for-all.
* Ranked by many services as the nation’s No. 1 football recruit from the class of 2012, Green-Beckham hauled in 66 passes for 1,616 yards and 23 touchdowns, carrying a struggling program to just its third postseason and first since 2003.
* In basketball, he was selected state Class 5 MVP, leading Hillcrest to its second state crown and first since 1984. Green-Beckham averaged 18.7 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, and in the title game, he scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the final quarter and blocked a pair of shots late to preserve the victory.
* In the state Class 4 track and field finals, he claimed titles in the 100 meters (11.0 seconds) and triple jump (47 feet, 2 1/2 inches) and was second in the long jump (23-2 1/4).
Keep in mind the latter two events – particularly the triple – are extremely technical events that normally take gobs of hours to perfect. Time a physical specimen and athlete-in-demand like Green-Beckham doesn’t have to devote, nor evidently need.
“He gets very little to no time between sports,” Beckham said. “Everyone wants a piece of him.”
Opponents definitely wanted a piece during the football season after Green-Beckham accounted for 800 yards and 13 touchdowns as a freshman on a 2-8 varsity squad.
The philosophy this season for foes was simple: stop Green-Beckham, stop Hillcrest.
“We knew what he was capable of, but because he would draw double-coverage, we weren’t sure he could duplicate his (freshman) numbers,” Beckham said.
Instead, he about doubled them. Just like he was doubled.
“He was really our only big offensive threat on offense,” Beckham said. “And they still couldn’t stop him.”
Nor could they in the other sports. His frame, position, quick rise to stardom and multiple-sport prowess have many recruiters thinking Randy Moss.
The former standout at DuPont High in West Virginia was a football All-American, state basketball Player of the Year (he teamed with NBA point guard Jason Williams) and multi-event state track champion.
“I had a recruiter come in recently who also recruited (Moss) as a high school kid,” Beckham said. “He told me they were very similar.”
But no one nationally quite matched up with Green-Beckham this season. Here were some of his chief competitors for the award, all seniors:
Harrison Barnes (Ames, Iowa): The MaxPreps Basketball Player of the Year averaged 26.1 points, 10 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game while leading Ames to 53 straight wins and back-to-back Class 4A state titles.
Dillon Baxter (Mission Bay, San Diego): The MaxPreps Football Player of the Year not only rushed 261 times for 2,974 yards and 50 touchdowns, but he also completed 102 of 166 passes for 1,736 yards and 26 touchdowns. He enrolled early to USC.
Nick Moore (Iowa City West, Iowa): Wrestler became just the 19th Iowan to win an individual state title all four years, going undefeated his third straight season. He ended his career going 181-1, and won by pin or technical fall in 31 of his final 32 matches.
Matt Darr (Frontier, Bakersfield, Calif.): A first-team All-American as a punter and kicker, Darr was also one of the nation’s top shot putters (63 feet, 9 3/4 inches) and discus throwers (194-11). He won three state titles over two seasons.
Jordan Hicks (Lakota West, West Chester, Ohio): The football signee to Texas was a first-team All-American linebacker who also a first-team all-area basketball player.
Zach Lee (McKinney, Texas): The LSU-bound quarterback passed for 2,935 yards and 33 touchdowns; plus he was a first-round pick of the Dodgers in the MLB draft after winning 11 games with a 2.15 ERA.
Albert, Midwest City, Okla.): Set national records for RBI (119)
and base hits (88) while slugging 28 home runs. Also earned all-state
honors in football while throwing for close to 2,000 yards.
Cody Riggs (St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.): A second-team All-American defensive back for the nationally ranked Raiders, Riggs also recorded the nation’s best 300-meter hurdles time in 36.44 seconds.
Robert Woods (Serra, Gardena, Calif.): A first-team All-American football receiver and safety who led his team to a state Division III bowl-game championship, Woods also recorded the nation’s second-best 400 meters time (46.14) and fourth-best 200 (21.04) of the track season.