Brandon Greene makes easy choice

ELLENWOOD, Ga. -- Even as a child, Temeka Minor said her son Brandon Greene wanted to be a big boy.

"When he was 5 years old he tried to dress himself for school," Minor said. "I got a call back from the teacher one day saying he put his shirt on inside-out underneath his coat. That was just him trying to be a big boy and do things on his own."

Greene's continued growth would put him on the basketball court at Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove -- a path that he had hoped would take him to the next level.

"Coming into high school, I was thinking my future was in hoops," Greene said. "Then Coach [Ray] Bonner came along and changed my mind, and I am grateful to him for that."

It wasn't easy. Greene first resisted Bonner's attempts to get him on the gridiron, but the Cedar Grove coach didn't give up.

"I saw him in PE class in ninth grade and I asked him if he was going to play football," Bonner said. "He said, 'No Coach, I am a basketball player.' I said, 'No Brandon, you are a football player and you have a chance to be a great left tackle.'"

Bonner was right. Greene, 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, is No. 25 in the ESPNU 150 and the No. 4 offensive tackle in the country. He was presented with his jersey for the Under Armour All-America Game during a Thursday pep rally in the Cedar Grove gym. It was part of the 80-stop American Family Insurance presents the Under Armour All-America Game selection tour. The game, in its fifth year, will take place on Jan. 5, 2012, in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be aired on ESPN.

Starting quarterback Johnathon McCrary, a ESPNU Watch List prospect, played basketball with Greene and has been the beneficiary of having the 6-foot-5, 290-pound athlete as a teammate in both sports.

"Brandon would just knock guys out of the way for me," McCrary said. "I told him he can't do that on the court. But on the football field that would be OK."

The decision to play football is one that has not only worked out well for Greene, but for McCrary as well. Last year, the 6-3, 185-pound junior completed over 65 percent of his passes for 3,343 yards and 24 touchdowns, while running for more than 700 yards as well. He attributes his success to Greene, and has complete trust in his ability to protect his blind side.

"If I was going to walk down a dark alley, I would want to have Brandon with me," McCrary said. "I know I would walk out alive. Really, Brandon is the greatest person I have had the pleasure of knowing."

That's a typical reaction when people get to know Greene. It's why his coach sees Greene's selection as an Under Armour All-American as an opportunity for Ellenwood to find hope in hard work.

"It means a lot to our community that Brandon Greene has the honor of playing in this game," Bonner said. "They see that they have this opportunity to succeed in life, and they know Brandon is where he is because of his work ethic. He is always on time and always doing what he is supposed to do and just making things happen for himself. That is something that is often lost in today's society."

For Greene, he hopes this is just the beginning of seeing the fruits of his labor.

"This game just shows that hard work pays off," Greene said. "It is such a blessing and I never thought I would have been able to have my choice of games to play in. Joshua Jarboe played in this game, I am going, and I hope McCrary gets to keep the Cedar Grove/Under Armour tradition going next year."

During the spring evacuation period, offers began to pour in for Greene as Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina and many others saw his immense potential. His recruitment would not last long as Greene, who is No. 25 in the ESPNU 150, said his commitment in March was as easy as deciding which all-star game to play in.

"It was my childhood dream to go to Alabama," Greene said. "When I played NCAA (video game), I would always pick the Crimson Tide."

His commitment has not stopped other programs from pursuing the athletic tackle with an immense frame, but Greene is just not listening to what the coaches have to say.

"Georgia and South Carolina are still coming after me, but I do not answer the phone when they call and I doubt I will visit anywhere else," Greene said.

Kipp Adams has covered University of Georgia recruiting since 2006. He can be reached at KippAdamsESPN@gmail.com or on Twitter @KippLAdams.