As he stood on the turf of the Alamodome in San Antonio in early January after being named co-MVP of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Dorial Green-Beckham was peppered with the same recruiting questions that he never felt comfortable answering.
In the middle of it all, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound seemingly NFL-ready wideout -- considered not only this year's top recruit, but perhaps the top in many years -- reached out through the crowd to his 6-year-old sister Eliza.
"You can come over here," he said.
With that, he continued answering queries about his college intentions, not revealing a hint of his leanings. As it turns out, one of the biggest clues may have been wrapping both of her arms around his legs as she looked up at him with love.
On Wednesday morning at Hillcrest High in Springfield, Mo., Green-Beckham announced that he is headed to Missouri, a campus roughly two hours from home.
The proximity, Green-Beckham said, made a difference.
"Just to stay home and have all those guys [family, friends] come out and see me [was big]," he said.
It was the most anticipated announcement of National Signing Day -- and the one that may have had the greatest impact. Green-Beckham, by all appearances, seems to be that good.
"He dominates with his body and his strength and he has big hands that snatch the ball out of the air," Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell said. "He's a natural red-zone threat, he can be a possession guy who can move the chains and make tough catches over the middle and along the sidelines and he has that deep threat ability."
Green-Beckham had an unstoppable senior season, catching 119 passes for 2,233 yards and 24 touchdowns en route to breaking the national career receiving record with 6,447 yards. He was showered with numerous national Player of the Year awards.
"Guys come in here and they say he's the best they've ever seen and that's coming from people who have seen a lot of great players," said his coach and adopted father, John Beckham.
Simply put, Green-Beckham isn't the typical high school hotshot. Both on and off the field, that's been apparent for quite some time.
Take his recruiting process. Courted relentlessly since his freshman season, he provided no public indication of which school he was favoring. He only listed the five schools that he would visit: Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Alabama and Texas.
Any speculation of which school was in front was simply that -- speculation. Nobody outside of his immediate family had any idea which hat he would grab during his nationally televised announcement.
Of course, that was likely
Green-Beckham, along with his younger brother, Darnell, moved in with John and Tracy Beckham as foster children when Dorial was 12. It was the final stop of a childhood that was filled with neglect and abandonment and too many situations that sadly didn't work out.
Dorial and Darnell slowly built a relationship with the Beckhams, and the family adopted them a few years later. Both played a role in Dorial's development.
"To see him when all of these awards is great," she said in San Antonio after he received one of his handful of national Player of the Year awards. "But to see him grow into the man he is today is just so special."
Green-Beckham has never been comfortable with his status as a high school superstar.
He stopped doing interviews in the weeks leading up to Signing Day. And while he was always polite and respectful with reporters, it was obvious he struggled with his stature as the biggest star in a very public game.
"I'm just from a small town in Missouri," he said repeatedly.
His closeness and comfort with the Beckhams was apparent as well -- and it undoubtedly played a major role in his eventual decision. So was his desire to be close to Darnell, a high school sophomore still receiving treatment for leukemia, though he's in remission.
And then there was Eliza.
Any college in the country would have made room for Green-Beckham, but it was obvious on that afternoon in San Antonio that she wasn't going to let anyone take her big brother away.
It was obvious, too, that he also wasn't interested in traveling very far.