Photo: Logan Booker/BI
J.J. Green was not recruited to play running back at the University of Georgia, yet he currently finds himself, as a true freshman, starting at the position in a conference that is known for standout backs and lethal defensive linemen. And with two of the nation’s best high school running backs currently pledged to arrive in Athens in time for the 2014 season, Green is taking the approach that they will just have to get in line.
In 2014, Aaron Murray will be getting paid to play quarterback somewhere on Sundays. With Hutson Mason – who we know very little about- taking snaps for the Dawgs, the running game will likely be the main focus of the offense. And for good reason, as Todd Gurley will not yet be eligible to bolt for the NFL, Keith Marshall will be expected to be back at full strength after tearing his ACL early this season, and those two high school pledges, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, appearing to be on pace to become the next “Gurshall.” But Green doesn’t want to hear that there will be no room for him to continue at running back…
“I came here to compete, so I am going to stay at running back,” Green said. “We are just going to have to show the young ones the ropes, like [Gurley and Marshall] showed us. We’ve got to teach them the plays, because the coaches are not always going to be there. It becomes up to the upperclassmen to teach the lowerclassmen the plays. Sometimes you have to have extra study time, where you have to do it on your own.”
Photo: Logan Booker/BI
Coming out of Camden County High School (Georgia), and listed as 5-foot-9, 189 pounds, Green does not look like the physical running backs that the SEC is known for. Green, however, views that as an advantage to himself, as he tends to get lost behind the behemoth offensive linemen from time to time.
(Laughing) “I get lost plenty of times!” Green said. “But that’s how I break some of my runs, because linebackers think they fit their blocks, and then I just shoot right by and they never notice. I think that helps a lot being short.”
As Green continues to prove that he can gain positive yards in this conference, the concern of a small back like himself pass blocking can certainly be a valid one. However, just as Green views his size as a running advantage, so too does he view it in his ability to block.
“Most times if I am going to block a defensive end, I am going to cut him,” Green said. (Laughing) “I am not about to get bull-rushed by a defensive end that’s like 6-foot-5, 270 pounds. Nope. I am going to cut him! That’s been pretty easy coming out of high school into college is the cutting factor. To cut somebody is the best thing ever, because they are not going to see it coming, especially if they are a freshman.”
Coming out of a high school that runs the Wing-T offense, Green has certainly done his fair share of blocking.
“I’ve been run blocking since high school coming out of that Wing-T system, so we always had to block,” Green said. “It has come to me. But the hardest thing is thing is getting into position, because they are always going to be on the move. You have to take away the edge and the bull-rush, and make them have only one way to go.”
The success Green has found running the ball these past several games certainly was not expected of him out of high school, as Green was only given a chance due to depth issues at the position during spring practice shortly after his arrival on campus as an early enrolllee.
“This spring we knew we had some issues at the tailback position so we just asked him ‘what do you think about playing some tailback,’” said head coach Mark Richt. “And he said ‘okay, Coach, I’ll play.’ Turns out he’s a tough nut.”
The way Green describes it, he claims to have won the coaches over from the very get-go. Well, that, and putting sophomore linebacker Jordan Jenkins in his place.
“It was my speed, and probably when I shook somebody for the first time,” Green said. “I think it was Jordan Jenkins. (Laughing again) Don’t tell him I said that, but that has happened plenty of times. But I think that really opened their eyes up that I can really play running back. And since then it has been easy.”
The way Green talks, one might think that he has forgotten himself that he is a true freshman kid playing in a conference full of men. But it is hard to blame the kid in him for enjoying the situation that he has found himself in. It is also easy to admire the attitude he has taken when carrying a load in which he was suppose to only help carry, not lead the pack.
“It’s motivating for any freshman to show what they can do,” Green said. “You’re going to come in and try to play, regardless of what they say. And if you’ve got people in front of you, you’re going to work hard to get some playing time. And if you aren’t playing hard, you aren’t going to get to play. It’s as simple as that. You don’t learn the plays, you aren’t going to play.”
With Todd Gurley once again not even seen on the sidelines during UGA’s practice on Wednesday, the likelihood of Green starting his second consecutive game against an SEC opponent is becoming a strong one. But do not let the true freshman classification and the numerical attributes fool you as you break down the matchups this week. Green thinks they are all working in his and UGA’s favor, and by all accounts of what he has shown us to back them up thus far, you have no reason not to believe him.
I love this guy. As a graduate of Camden Co (1986) I have kept a close eye on this guy. He's a play maker who could be used in space effectively. He's probably the best player to come out of Camden since Stump Mitchell 1970's (Citadel) St.Louis Cardinals.
Green is playing very well. Exceeds my expectations. He's stronger then I thought he'd be. The only knock I've got on him is he seems to fall a little short on top end speed. He doesn't leave the DBs behind on long runs. But boy he sure does get into that second level in a hurry!
Now that we know how good JJ is, I want packages that have him in there with Gurley. He could play in the slot, start in the backfield go in motion, there are many possibilities. Heck even Douglas could do some of this, maybe as a H back type. I want play makers on the field. As good as the offense is, I don't believe in resting on laurels.......let's blow their minds with all our play making ability!
If the offensive line plays to their ability, we should be able to run on Vandy at will and when they stack the box to stop the run, Murray should be able to pick them apart passing if the receivers will hold onto the ball. I'm with Sheepdawg in regards to the defense, they have got to get some 3 and outs. I hope they really made some adjustments for Saturday. I'm tired of seeing opposing offenses consistantly conververting 3rd and long on them. The defense has got to step up.
It would be nice if we can rest Gurley until the Florida game but we cannot afford another loss. Green looks good and between him and Douglas we are solid but the defense is another horror story
@CodiHandley JJ Green has also been making opposing teams' defenders miss as well in actual games.
I'm originally from Charlton County but have been in Camden since 1996. I may have missed 3 or 4 of Camden's home game since being here. When JJ was there it was just pure excitement. He was consistantly returning kickoffs for TD's, breaking 80 yard runs from the backfield, and at CB he would lay the wood on some a?? es. Whatever happened to Ean Days, I know he initially went to Illinois and then transferred to GA Southern but last time I looked he wasn't on GSU's roster.
Funny you said Charlton Co because I was born in Folkston. I don't know what happened to that dude. Stadium still full on Friday nights??
Oh yeah. They love their HS football. I was just curious bout Ean, I wouldve liked to have seen him at Ga. He could light it up too.