Big Ten: LaDainian Tomlinson
When fellow Penn State running back Evan Royster decided in January to return for his senior season, Green got the news directly from the source.
Royster’s message meant that Green, in all likelihood, would be handling backup duties for Penn State for the third consecutive season.
Royster has been Penn State’s featured back since 2008, rushing for 2,405 yards and 18 touchdowns during the span. The first-team All-Big Ten selection from last season is on pace to break Curt Warner’s team rushing record this fall.
Bottom line: barring injury, Royster will carry the rock for Penn State in 2010, and Green will spend more time waiting his turn.
“I can’t control what happens,” Green said. “I just try to prepare myself so if anything was to happen [to Royster], I could step in and play that starting role. I don’t have any animosity toward it, I’m not mad or anything like that.
“We just have a real good running back sitting in the backfield this year. It’s good for our team.”
Here’s why Green shouldn’t be too upset about another year as the second-stringer.
Penn State will turn to a young, unproven quarterback this season following the graduation of standout Daryll Clark. To ease the pressure, Joe Paterno and his offensive staff will turn to the running backs.
While Royster boasts an impressive career yards-per-carry average (6.1), he has only averaged 15.2 carries per game in his two seasons as the starter. He has received 20 or more carries just three times in his career. Green, meanwhile, has recorded 176 carries in the past two seasons and should continue to receive a decent number this fall.
“We’re young at quarterback, and we’re probably going to have to rely on the running game a lot this year,” Green said. “I’m happy with the touches I get.”
The 5-foot-10, 197-pound Green generated buzz during spring practice in 2008 after recording several breakaway runs in scrimmages. His A-plus speed and mesmerizing moves made him a coveted recruit coming out of Kennedy High School in Bronx, N.Y.
Green said his style often draws comparisons to that of a certain NFL back.
"Everybody keeps telling me Thomas Jones," he said. "I try to go for LaDainian Tomlinson, but I haven't quite got there yet."
Some expected Green to challenge for the starting job as a freshman, but Royster established himself as Penn State's No. 1 ball carrier and has never looked back. Green still rushed for 578 yards and four touchdowns on 105 carries (5.5 ypc average), logging 269 plays.
A dislocated ankle in the Rose Bowl against USC slowed Green, who missed spring ball following surgery. He seemed to be hitting his stride last season with strong performances against Illinois and Eastern Illinois before reinjuring the ankle and missing two games. Green didn't feel 100 percent again until the Capital One Bowl, a 19-17 Penn State win against LSU.
The junior spent this spring working on his blocking, specifically picking up blitzes from different angles.
"I'm trying to be a smarter player, be a student of the game," he said. "Seeing things, talking to the linebackers, asking them what their keys are when they're blitzing, things like that. The overall aspect of blocking, I improved on."
Although he's not a big back, Green added a few pounds to his frame and hopes to be more durable. Just in case he moves up a spot on the depth chart.
"Hopefully, my ankle holds up and I can be more durable," he said. "If you really look at it, I haven't had any other problems but my ankle. If that holds up, I can be more of an asset to this team."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- When Illinois scrimmages Wednesday afternoon in Memorial Stadium, Mike Schultz will coach from the press box.
It's part of Schultz's attempt to simulate a game situation, always a good idea for a new offensive coordinator going through his fifth practice with his new team. But there's another, slightly more embarrassing reason for Schultz's whereabouts.
It will get him out of the cold.
The temperature is hovering around 50 degrees Wednesday, which isn't bad for central Illinois this time of year. But for a Houston native like Schultz who spent the last 11 seasons at TCU, where he held the same job, this might as well be the Arctic. At least it's better than his initial trip to Champaign in January, when a cold front dropped temperatures to 10 below.
Schultz is slowly adjusting to the weather, but he'll get there soon enough. He's not afraid to adapt, which is a good thing in his new job.
"I have come in and fit myself to this offense," Schultz said. "We have new ideas coming in. But have we changed the offense? No. It's not like there's going to be a major overhaul of this offense. There's no need to.
"One of the things coach Zook and I both agreed on is we're going to try to keep everything the same as we can, so the only people really going through a transition are myself and [new offensive line coach] Joe Gilbert. It's two versus 40. Just common sense-wise, it just make sense to approach it that way."
In an age of my-way-or-bust playcallers, Schultz is unique in his willingness to be flexible. Since taking the job in January he has talked with his predecessor, New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley, but not about Illinois' personnel or schemes.
He wanted to come to Illinois with no preconceived notions. It's a clean canvas, and the players will be doing much of the brush work.