TAMPA, Fla. — Finally, the car pulled up, and Odell Beckham Jr. hopped out.
Jarvis Landry smiled. He had been waiting for this moment for months.
It was the summer of 2010. The top two receiver prospects in Louisiana had never met. That was moments from changing in — of all places — Tuscaloosa, Ala.
“I was kind of the top ranked receiver in Louisiana, and he was a tight second,” Landry said. “I wanted to finally get the chance to meet him and see him and see the things that he could do on the field. I wanted to see this guy.”
The two were part of the same Louisiana seven-on-seven team playing in a star-filled tournament in Alabama’s backyard.
Beckham had shown up late, just moments before the team’s first game.
What happened next stunned Landry.
Beckham raced out of his father’s car onto the field, quickly met Landry and then — without stretching or warming up — began playing.
An impressive first impression, for sure.
This wasn’t a one-way feeling. Beckham was more than curious about Landry, the guy ranked just above him.
“I had heard of Jarvis Landry,” Beckham said. “I wanted to see him.”
This was Chapter 1. This was the beginning. This was the prelude to the LSU receiving duo’s storybook 2013 season.
The final chapter might be written after Wednesday’s Outback Bowl against Iowa.
By now, most know the details: Landry and Beckham had the best year by any receiving duo in school history.
They became LSU’s first pair of receivers to each break the 1,000-yard mark in the same season and just the third to do it in Southeastern Conference history. Landry and Beckham are 17th and 23rd nationally in receiving yards. No other team has two players in the top 32.
The pair has combined for 132 catches, 2,289 yards and 18 touchdowns. Together, they have more yards receiving than four SEC teams have passing.
“I don’t think words can describe it,” running back Alfred Blue said.
Explaining it might be easier: Two talented Louisiana kids on their home-state team being delivered the ball by a strong-armed, accurate passer, all the while overseen by a cunning coordinator.
It doesn’t do it justice. But then again, not much can.
Landry (75 catches, 1,172 yards, 10 touchdowns) has double his yards and touchdowns from last season. Beckham (57 catches, 1,117 yards, 8 touchdowns) has well surpassed his 2012 numbers, too.
The way these two have exploded this season leaves everyone searching for reasons, for answers, for something.
Coach Les Miles said he knew long ago.
“It was obvious once we got them,” he said, “they were going to be the pair.”
Many feel that both juniors will declare early for the NFL draft. Both are projected to be selected between the first and third rounds.
It’ll be a sad goodbye for close friends.
“It’s not something I like to think about it,” Beckham said. “It’s kind of sad if it is our last time. We want to make it one that’s memorable.”
On the field, their statistics are close. Landry is just 55 yards and two touchdowns ahead of Beckham.
Off the field, their bond is closer.
“Like brothers,” said Beckham, the more talkative of the two. “We literally do everything together. It’s kind of crazy.”
The friendship began more than three years ago at that camp in Tuscaloosa. It was an awkward time, they admit.
Beckham was a four-star prospect, rated as the sixth-best receiver in the nation and second best in Louisiana. Landry was a five-star recruit, rated as the nation’s No. 4 wideout and the No. 1 receiver in the state.
They introduced themselves.
“It was just a handshake,” Landry said. “You know, when you first meet a person, you try to get that feel about him. He was just so lively.”
Throughout the day — the Louisiana team advanced to the semifinals of the tournament — they realized why each other held such lofty ratings.
The awkwardness faded. Deep conversations were had that night in the team hotel room.
Landry had committed to LSU months prior. Beckham committed about six months later.
Said Miles: “We were recruiting them both.”
“We basically were just like, ‘We want to play on the same team, same side of the ball and just try and make history and be one of the best duos to ever do it.’ ” Beckham said. “It was a goal of ours. It’s something we were reaching for.”
Earlier this week, a small group of LSU players visited sick children at the Tampa General Hospital. Beckham and Landry were included in the mix — because, of course, if you invite one, you have to invite the other.
They were inseparable and nearly identical. Each wore a backup and followed the other in and out of hospital rooms.
At one point, they both sat on a bench inches from each other in indistinguishable poses: heads titled down at the same angle, leaning forward, elbows resting on their thighs and their phones in hand scrolling over the most recent Twitter news.
Even their families, Landry said, have become close.
“His mom and my mom. His dad and my mom. His dad and my brother,” he said. “It’s all became kind of one big family.”
They do have their differences.
On the field, Beckham admits Landry is the more physical player. Beckham is the finesse guy, the speedier of the two.
Their music choices don’t always agree.
“He likes listening to country every now and then,” Beckham said, “and I’m not a huge country guy.”
Their production is nearly identical: Beckham has 141 career catches, Landry has 135; Beckham has scored 12 touchdowns, Landry 15.
They are both in the top five this year in single-season receiving yards, Landry third and Beckham fifth. They are tied for fifth all-time with five 100-yard receiving games this year.
It all began in Tuscaloosa, two talented teenagers hatching a plan to be the best at LSU.
“That’s a story for the next generations, you know?” Landry said. “Things we’ve done are going to be in the record books together.
“And that’s what means the most to me and him.”