S.C. LB Is Ideal Fit For UT

With a name like Isaac Green he could be a blues singer, but it's running backs and quarterbacks that sing the blues when the Sumpter High School linebacker draws a bead on his target.

At 6-1, 195, Green isn't the biggest linebacker on the board, but with a 4.39 time in the 40 he may be the fastest and he's a perfect fit for a Tennessee defense that places a high priority on speed much in mode of Eric Westmoreland, Raynoch Thompson, Eddie Moore and Omar Gaither.

He also comes with a seek-and-destroy mentality that is desirable in linebackers and a team-first approach which underscores his success. A four-year starter for Sumpter, which competes in the Big 16 division made up of the largest schools in South Carolina, Green led the Gamecocks with 122 tackles as a junior, including 18 behind the line of scrimmage. He also had three interceptions, four caused fumbles, one recovery and eight sacks for Sumpter which finished 9-4, losing in the second round of the state playoffs. That defeat still dogs Green's dreams and helps set the tone for the atonement he seeks as a senior.

"We lost three to nothing, three to nothing," he said repeating the score for emphasis. "We blocked one field goal and they missed another and made one that beat us. Our defense was tough. At one time we were ranked No. 1 in the state last year. This year we'll win the state championship."

Green's bold statement isn't as much about arrogance as it is confidence in his teammates whom he promotes with the type of zeal and relish normally reserved for coaches.

"We've got one of the best quarterbacks in the state," he said. "We've got four 300-pound linemen that are legit Division I prospects. Our quarterback has offers from about five different schools and so do our linemen. They've got me in the mix, a good receiver, a great cornerback and great free safety. We're just stacked. A lot of colleges don't believe our talent until they come see it. They think our coach is lying on the phone until they come to see us and see we have 6-5, 300-pound linemen. We're going to win the state championship."

Green started his career as running back but was switched to linebacker as a sophomore. This season he'll again see duty a ball carrier, but his heart is with a defense that he considers his own.

"This year I'll be running the ball and playing defense," he stated. "The way I describe myself: I'm a leader. When I'm on the field I shape the players around me. It was my defense. When we went on the field we had an arrogance about us. We let everybody know we were coming to hit you. I like to run the defense. I feel like I'm a general on the field whenever I'm out there. Man, I have some hard hitters."

Green is one of Sumpter's premier strikers and he recalls his favorite hits like a man in love.

"I had a play against Stratford where the quarterback was rolling to throw and I caught him right up under the arm pit and knocked him about five yards back in the air," he said. "My defense, we call ourselves Merc City. If you cross that boundary you're going to get merced. It's like hurt, but it's called merc."

While the hip slang captures the essence of Sumpter's aggressive 6-2 scheme, it doesn't do Green justice. For that you have to see him in person and observe his flawless stride and cat-quick feet. Those traits were on display at Tennessee's recent Seniors Camp where he clocked one of the fastest 40 times of the day along with an impressive 4.6 time in his first-ever attempt at the 20-yard shuttle. It's no surprise that Green is an accomplished sprinter with a 10.52 personal best time in the 100 meters. He also runs the 200 meters and is a member of Sumpter's 4-by-100 meter and 4-by-400 meter relay teams.

"I ran a 4.39 time in the 40 once," he said. "I consistently run a 4.4. I change directions very well. In one track meet I ran six races. That's one of the reasons my weight got down to 185, but I'm back up to about 195 now and I'll start the season at about 200. That won't be any problem."

In addition to his speed, Green possesses excellent strength. It's been a while since he's maxed out on the bench, but he regularly does three sets and nine reps at 255 pounds, plus he squats 495.

"The power clean is my big thing," he said. "I press 271 there. You have to get your hips into it and it's a better measurement of your strength."

Because of the death of his track coach, Green missed an opportunity to show his stuff at the Virginia Nike Camp last month, but he is still drawing a lot of attention from colleges and that should only increase during what projects as a stellar senior campaign.

"Clemson and South Carolina have a lot of interest in me," he said. "N.C. State contacts me a lot and they want me to come to their camps. I'm getting a lot of letters from other schools."

Tennessee is another school that likes Green and the feeling appears to be mutual.

"It was good, man," he said of his recent visit to UT. "I liked the campus. The stadium was unbelievable. I've always liked Tennessee. I want to stay in the southeast and in the Southeastern Conference Tennessee has always been a dominate. Tennessee, Florida, Miami, Florida State they are almost always in the top schools."

The Vols are off to a good start with Green who has developed a rapport with UT defensive line coach Dan Brooks, a recruiter with noted success in the Carolina area.

"Coach Brooks is calling me," Green confirmed. "He's a good man. Tennessee has a top of the line staff. From what I saw I liked the way they coached. I liked the way they treat people, not just as athletes, but the way they treat people. I like the way they stress spiritual development, the fact they talked about going to chapel. Tennessee is a great school. I want to come back for another visit."

Green was named all-region and all-district last year and aims to be a first team all-state selection at linebacker in 2003. Although he has an eye toward the future his heart is home and he wants to make the most of his last year of high school. An fierce competitor on the field, he is thoughtful and philosophical about the opportunities at hand.

"I like to spend time with my mother," he responded when asked how he likes to spend his spare moments. "I know when I leave she's going to miss me. I try to spend time with my friends. I know one more year is going to pass fast and eventually we're going to go our separate ways. I want to make as many memories as I can with the people that mean the most to me. I just try to enjoy high school. Every now and then I'll go to a party if one pops up the right way."

Doing things the right way keeps Isaac Green on the fast track to stardom.

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