The Ohio State football program probably owes Richmond (Va.) Hermitage running back Derrick Green a favor.
“The scholarship offer was more than enough,” Green told BSB while chuckling at the thought.
It was the least the Buckeyes could do for Green, who helped the program in the recruitment of his former teammate Curtis Grant. Now a linebacker at Ohio State, Grant was Green’s high school teammate at Hermitage while becoming one of the most sought-after linebackers in the 2011 recruiting class.
Without Green, Ohio State wouldn’t have landed Grant.
“I went to a camp at Ohio State long before Curtis ever did,” Green explained, “and I came back and said how great it was, how the facilities were and how the coaching staff was. So, he said he was going to go up for a visit and he loved it.”
But the scholarship the Buckeyes offered Green had nothing to do with repayment for helping the program get in a good position with Grant during his prep years. In fact, Ohio State wants Green just as badly for his on-the-field prowess.
OSU isn’t alone, either. Regarded as one of the best running backs in the 2013 class, Green picked up his 12th scholarship offer Nov. 11 when Oklahoma issued him a verbal tender.
Perhaps the best quality Green boasts is his unique combination of size and speed. Listed at 5-11, 220 pounds – though he’ll be quick to point out he is 6-0 – the running back posted a 4.31-second 40-yard dash at a recent camp.
“The interest picked up a lot once I ran that fast,” Green said. “They saw my size and they saw my time, and they were like, ‘He is running a 4.31 and he is big, fast and powerful for a running back.’ That’s when the offers and all the contacts started really coming in.”
That combination of skill-sets has made Green a priority for Ohio State, which is striving to build a foundation with him despite still having work to do with its current class. The type of back Green is evolving into is apt, too, given Green has modeled his game after former OSU great Eddie George.
George, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1995, rushed for over 3,700 yards and 44 touchdowns during his time at Ohio State, a prolific career Green saw from his couch, as his grandfather was an avid fan of the Buckeyes and regularly invited Green to watch the games together.
“He got me liking Ohio State a lot,” Green said of his grandfather, who recently passed away. “He knew I wanted to be a running back and he got me studying Eddie George. I watched him a lot
“I want to be like him a lot,” Green continued. “He was a big back and I am 6-0, so people told me I wasn’t going to be a running back because of my size. But he was a big back and I saw the things he was able to do, and I told myself that I wanted to be like him and accomplish the same things he accomplished.”
Green was recently at Ohio State for a visit Oct. 29 to watch the Buckeyes host Wisconsin. If the dramatic last-minute touchdown pass by freshman quarterback Braxton Miller to knock off the highly ranked Badgers weren’t enough to impress Green on the visit, perhaps it was another occurrence during the game that took the running back’s breath away.
Though Green didn’t plan his visit with knowledge of the halftime festivities, Ohio State honored George during the break for his pending induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Green, however, didn’t get a chance to meet George because of a small case of bad timing. His mother, however, had the honor of meeting the legendary running back.
“They have the recruiting room (at Ohio Stadium) and my mom actually got to meet Eddie George,” said Green, who wears George’s familiar No. 27 to honor his idol. “I was in the restroom when he walked by really quick and she told me. When I found out I missed him, I was so mad. I didn’t believe her. But during the game I sat next to his son and I got a chance to talk to him and it was a great opportunity.
“My mom introduced herself (to George) and she told him that I was a really big fan of his,” Green continued. “She was trying to get him to wait for me to get out of the bathroom but he had to go. She told him how much I liked him as a football player and how much I wanted to be with him.”
Still in the early portions of his recruitment, Green said he isn’t close to narrowing his options. Ohio State has had obvious recent success in landing talent from Green’s high school in Grant, and Green said location of universities wouldn’t be a factor in his eventual decision.
Green still keeps in close contact with his former high school teammate who is now returning the favor and filling the running back in on all the details of his freshman season in Columbus.
“He tells me all the stuff I don’t know about Ohio State, and they are all good things,” Green said of Grant. “When I was at the Wisconsin game and I spoke to him and asked him how he was liking it and adapting, he said he loved it and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. He said he was really enjoying himself and would love to have me down there with him.”
Green said he values his relationship with Grant and the two have continued to stay very close despite the distance. That friendship, Green said, started in his freshman season at Hermitage on the football field.
“He is like my big brother and I always looked up to him,” Green said. “If I needed anything, I knew I could always count on him. Since I started as a freshman (in high school), I wasn’t really liked that much and he was the one who came and showed me the ropes. I appreciated that and I still feel like he’s a great friend.”
While leading Hermitage – the state runner-ups in 2010 – Green rushed for over 1,000 yards and 20 touchdowns during the regular season his junior year. However, he said he rarely played in the second half during the regular season because his team made a routine of blowing out opponents.
“I just play the first half and then I am usually done,” Green explained. “I feel like if I played all four quarters, I’d have like 1,800 yards.”
Though interest in Green continues to increase – the running back could amass more than 20 offers before his senior season – he plans to make an official visit to Ohio State next year.
The Buckeyes have to be pleased with the current positioning they enjoy with Green, who isn’t shy to name Ohio State as one of his top schools. While taking the process slow, he knows what he wants out of his eventual destination.
“One, I need to have a great coaching staff and the academics have to be good,” Green said. “Those two things are very important to me. I’d also like to have early playing time, maybe start (my freshman season).
“I am going to take it slow, but I know Ohio State will be there at the end. We will see how things play out, but I’m really interested in Ohio State and I’ll explore them with all of my other options.”
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