Green Primed For Career Year

Fifth-year senior defensive tackle Marcus Green has had an up-and-down career up to this point. But he is in the best shape of his life and he could be one of the key members of the Buckeyes' defense this season. We recently caught up with Green who reflected on his OSU career, gave his thoughts on the upcoming season and more.

If you're searching for a player who might rise up and have a career year this season, look no further than senior defensive tackle Marcus Green.

The 6-2, 290-pound Green is in excellent shape and will be one of Ohio State's starting defensive tackles, along with junior Quinn Pitcock.

Green's career at Ohio State has been underwhelming up to this point. He's been solid at times, but knows he has a lot more to offer.

"I'm just ready to get going," Green said. "I've been looking forward to this season. I think I can help this team win a lot of games this season."

A graduate of Louisville Male High School, Green was the No. 1-rated defensive lineman in Kentucky as a senior in 2000, recording 80 tackles and 10 sacks. He also played offensive line.

Green was a part of Jim Tressel's first recruiting class at Ohio State. He is one of only four scholarship players that remain from that class (Ryan Hamby, Brandon Schnittker, Andree Tyree).

Green arrived at OSU in 2001, carrying 325 pounds on his frame. The coaching staff felt he was out of shape and redshirted him.

In 2002, Green got his first taste of action. He played in 11 games on the national championship squad, but recorded just two assisted tackles. Again, it was his conditioning that was keeping him off the field. Green's weight ballooned to as much as 335 pounds.

Following the 2002 season, the coaching staff sat Green down and explained he could not play at OSU unless he lost weight. A lot of weight. Around 40 pounds.

Instead of pouting, Green went to work. By the time the 2003 season rolled around, he was down to 305 pounds and also added a lot of strength.

Green played in 11 games as a sophomore in '03 – including two starts – and finished with 15 tackles.

In 2004, Green again reported to camp in shape. He was rewarded with a starting position, but battled an ankle sprain for much of the season. He finished the year with seven starts (12 games), 32 tackles, three tackles-for-loss and two sacks.

Now, as a fifth-year senior, Green feels like the old man on the block.

"I do," he said. "I guess the first year I was here when I redshirted, it went by really, really slow. But after that, I started playing and it has kind of flown by. So, I kind of feel old. The body is not young."

Green has heard all the talk about OSU being a national title contender this season. But he warns against looking too far ahead.

"We just need to take it game-by-game," he said. "If we do look ahead, we could be in for a surprise. I don't want any upsets."

The coaching staff has already mentioned that the defense needs to get more pressure on quarterbacks this season. Green might not rack up the sacks himself, but if he can draw double-teams and eat up blockers, it will free up other defenders to make plays.

"I think a lot of it is effort," Green said of getting sacks. "Getting the right guys in there at the right time. Basically put your best four on the field, or your best three on the field. We're going to get it done, one way or another."

Last year, the Buckeyes were unable to get a lot of pressure on quarterbacks.

"There's a lot of frustration," Green said. "You're going out there everyday working hard and then you're going into games and not getting pressure on the quarterback and they're scrambling out of the pocket and making long throws downfield, that's frustrating, especially when you watch it on tape and you've got to hear the coaches say we're not doing our jobs. So, that kind of eats at you through the offseason. It's just something that we've got to get better at."

With Green, Pitcock, Jay Richardson and Mike Kudla, there is reason for optimism when looking at OSU's D-line. There are also several talented backups behind the projected starters.

"The D-line can be as good as the work we put into it," Green said. "If we work hard in the film room and on the field… we'll get out of it as much as we put into it."

The Buckeyes had their first practice of the season on Monday. Earlier that morning, they had their yearly fitness test, which Green passed. But even for someone who prides himself on staying in shape now, Green still isn't crazy about all the running.

"Well, for big guys, conditioning is always difficult," he said. "I just need to be better everyday. I need to be better than I was the last day of practice."

When he arrived in 2001, the coaching staff would have said Green was one of the laziest players on the team. Ask them now and they will say he is one of the hardest workers on the team.

"I try to be," Green said. "Some days I feel like I stay in the weight room three hours and then go watch the film or something. I'll work out for hours and I still don't feel like I'm working hard enough. The coaches say that when you feel like you're not doing enough, that's when you know that you are working hard. So, I just try and work hard every day."

Green is listed in the media guide at 6-3, 305 pounds, but he says that is not accurate.

"I guess when I came here I was 6-3, because I was trying to get here," he said with a laugh. "But I'm actually 6-2, about 290. I'm trying to get my weight up before the start of the Big Ten. You know you drop about five, six pounds in camp, so I'm going to try and husky up before the season starts."

Green feels like he has been through a little bit of everything during his five years at Ohio State. He's been at the bottom and the top, both personally and team-wise.

"When I came in, even through I redshirted, I was still out there practicing everyday," Green said. "Just because you're not playing doesn't mean you want the team to lose.

"My freshman year, we were 7-5 and that was … even coming from high school, we didn't lose that many games. We won two state championships in high school and I wasn't used to losing. So, I came here and we went 7-5.

"Of course, the next year we won the national championship.

"My third year we went (11-2) and could have gone back to the national championship, and that was kind of disappointing.

"And of course last year, we lost four games and that was extremely disappointing to me. I thought we had a good team.

"I guess we have been through a lot of stuff together. A lot of highs, a lot of lows. This year, we're going to leave on a high, I guarantee that."

There are several players vying for the backup defensive tackle positions. Juniors Joel Penton and David Patterson, sophomore Sian Cotton and redshirt freshman Nader Abdallah. Green was asked which of the backups he is most impressed with.

"Joel Penton, when he's out there, he plays pretty good," Green said. "He makes plays, he's dependable. He's not going to go renegade on you and do something uncharacteristic of the defense. He's going to go in and give you 100 percent. So, Joel Penton and Dave Patterson are the two key backups."

What about Cotton? He has looked promising at times, but can't seem to work his way out of the coaches' doghouse.

"I think he's still trying to learn a little bit," Green said. "I don't think he has everything down. But when he was in the games, he really impressed me. I guess he just has to be one of those guys that the coaches can depend on and can depend on all the time."

Green has a tight relationship with defensive coordinator Jim Heacock. It was Heacock – the former defensive line coach – that was always on Green's case to lose weight.

Now that Heacock is running the defense, Green doesn't foresee any major adjustments.

"I don't expect him to change at all," Green said. "Coach Heacock will always been one of those hands-on guys. I couldn't see him sitting up in the box calling plays. He's needs to be on the field. I think he'll be on the field. He's one of those guys, if he has to tell you something, he wants to be right there telling you. He doesn't want someone to relay the message."

Green knows there would be no better way to end a college career than to play in the Rose Bowl – the site of this year's national championship game.

"Pasadena, yeah, I would like that," he said. "That would be the ultimate way to go out."

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