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January 4, 2012
SAN ANTONIO - Dorial Green-Beckham wasn't looking to chat or make a new friend. It was nothing personal. It was just early in the morning and he only wanted to ride down the elevator and get some breakfast.
But when you're the nation's No. 1 recruit, any moment in public seemingly is fair game for a sales pitch from any enthusiastic alum.
"You need to come down to LSU," the man next to him said without provocation - but only after looking Green-Beckham up and down, making sure the teen-ager was who he thought he was.
Green-Beckham just smiled. He didn't reveal that LSU is not even on his final list of schools or make it clear he wasn't going to announce his decision to total strangers on a hotel elevator.
Of course, he didn't have time.
After being spotted, the 6-5 Green-Beckham was offered a chance to high-five a fan in front of him who suddenly spun around - a woman who would need high heels just to reach 5-5.
Awkward? You bet. But it's just part of the life of a high-profile football recruit, where anyone at anytime will offer unsolicited advice about your future.
"It's been happening since the start of the recruiting process," Green-Beckham of Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest said with a shrug. "It still surprises me."
Especially now. Beckham is here for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl - perhaps the only place where a star high school football player shouldn't stand out. Five-star prospects such as Green-Beckham are everywhere.
Green-Beckham was surprised he stood out.
"I'm from Missouri," he said. "How did he know who I am? How did he know I was that guy."
Fans just always seem to know.
All the players here have similar stories.
It starts with family and friends, usually around their sophomore year of high school - or right after word gets out that interest is coming in.
And while it's well-meaning, quarterback Tyler Matthews of McPherson (Kan.) High admitted it can get a bit old.
He apparently didn't listen; he's headed to TCU.
But while Matthews said he could understand their interest from those close to him, others still can't figure out why total strangers would care.
Quarterback Anthony Alford of Petal (Miss.) High started hearing from all sorts of folks during his junior year.
"In Walmart, restaurants, wherever," he said. "They just come up to me."
Such intrusions are now part of a society where celebrity is everything and there are seemingly no boundaries.
"Now I understand why celebrities don't go out much," he said.
Alford, however, does. And now, when approached, he has a standard response.
"I just smile and tell them I'm undecided," he said.
He still is weighing the pros and cons of each before making a decision. He's not sure where he'll end up, but this much is certain: His decision won't be based on advice from a total stranger.
But we're guessing it will be offered anyway.