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Headline: Fifth-Year Senior Green Wraps Up OSU Career
(From Jan. 2006 issue)
By Dave Biddle
It's been a long, but fun, five years at Ohio State for defensive tackle Marcus Green.
A graduate of Louisville (Ky.) Male High School, Green was the No. 1-rated defensive lineman in Kentucky as a senior in 2000, recording 80 tackles and 10 sacks.
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 and Andree Tyree are the others.).
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.
This year, as a fifth-year senior, Green has been a starter and a key component on one of the best defenses in the country. His play improved throughout the season and he was named OSU's "attack force" player of the week following the 40-2 win over Illinois on Nov. 5 after recording a sack.
As one of the few fifth-year players on the roster, Green admits he 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.
"My body feels old sometimes. Five years of college football takes a toll. I do feel like kind of the old man on the team. The man people come to for wisdom. If you need to know something, I can tell you. Whether it's about school, the campus, football, whatever."
When he arrived in 2001, Ohio State's coaches 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 squad.
"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."
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 every day," 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 season, the Buckeyes set a goal of winning a national championship, but obviously fell short.
"We didn't accomplish what we wanted this year, but I think we've proved to be one of the best teams in the country," Green said. "The ball didn't bounce our way a couple weeks."
Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel was pleased with the way Green stepped up as a senior.
"Marcus is a fifth-year guy who just gets better and better," Tressel said. "He works hard, studies the film hard and is just a great young man. And it's great to see older guys like that playing the best football of their career late in the season when we really need it."
Green knows a thing or two about winning championships. In addition to OSU's national title, he was a part of two state titles in high school.
"Yeah, we won my sophomore year and my senior year," Green said.
Other than Green, the star player on his high school team was Michael Bush, who now is a starting running back at the University of Louisville.
"I knew he was going to be this good," Green said of Bush. "Probably the minute he stepped on the field he was a dominant player. He was getting a lot of publicity before he ever came to the first practice. I was like, ‘He can't be this good.' But then our first game he scored two or three touchdowns and I was like, ‘This kid is something special.'
"We also had Montrell Jones, the wide receiver. He went to Tennessee and then he ended up at Louisville. He also starts at Louisville."
Green was a two-way starting lineman in high school. Most scouts actually thought he was a better fit on the offensive side of the ball.
"(Ohio State) might have been the only school recruiting me to play defensive line," Green said. "Everybody else wanted me to be a center, offensive guard, something like that. I think I just like defensive line better – you get to hear your name called every once in a while. Offensive line, you're just out there doing a job."
Green was initially recruited to OSU by John Cooper. But when Cooper was fired in early 2001 and replaced by Jim Tressel, Green wasn't sure where he would end up.
But he took a liking to Tressel and the rest is history. Mark Dantonio had been recruiting him as well for Michigan State, but he came back in under the OSU umbrella after joining Tressel at Ohio State.
"I didn't commit until Coach Tressel was hired," Green said. "When I met with him, I kind of felt like he was just a down-to-earth good guy. Probably one of the most down-to-earth coaches I've ever met. (Texas') Mack Brown was also pretty down-to-earth, but everybody else, they'll tell you this stuff. Coach Tressel is a straight shooter. He's going to tell you like it is. I was big and he was like, ‘You're going to have to lose weight when you get here.' And I was like, ‘This man is serious.' He said, ‘If you don't lose weight, you probably won't play here.' And I'm like, ‘This might be where I need to go – somewhere that's going to get me better and get me where I need to be.'"
Following the bowl game, Green will be preparing for what he hopes will be a professional football career. No, he won't be an early NFL draft pick, but he should have the opportunity to work his way into the league. Maybe as a late-round pick; maybe as an undrafted free agent.
"Once I get out of here, playing in the NFL has always been a dream of mine," Green said. "Getting to play in the NFL would be something amazing.
"I'm also looking forward to seeing my family in the off-seasons, being able to spend a little more time with them. I've never been on a spring break. I might go on a spring break."
But more than anything, Green wants to make an NFL team. He knows it might be a long shot, but he's been down that road before.
"For me, it's always been dream of mine to be able to start at a college program," he said. "When I first got here, people were telling me I was too big. It's something that I never thought would happen, you know, being able to be a starter and having all these opportunities in front of me. I'm just real thankful that I may have these avenues like the NFL and stuff like that."
If professional football doesn't work out, Green has a plan B.
"I kind of see myself as a businessman," he said. "Start some kind of business. I would be interested in buying real estate or something like that if it goes in my favor."