"I loved the game the first time I tried it," Greene said after today's practice. "All that running around, chasing after the ball, it was great. I think my parents loved the game as well. It got me out of the house and tired me out some. I was always a kid with huge amounts of energy to spare."
Greene, a native of Elizabeth, New Jersey, played safety for Elizabeth High School on a team that ranked fifth overall in state competition. After high school graduation, Greene went on to attend Avon Old Farms Preparatory School in Avon, CT where he played safety and wide receiver.
Greene then played for Rutgers, starting at free safety his freshman and sophomore seasons. In 2011, Greene shifted to outside linebacker. The transition went well as he was selected first-team All-Big East and earned Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors. His 141 tackles that season rank fifth on the Rutgers single-season record list.
In 2012, Greene was named All-American First Team by ESPN and second-team by Sports Illustrated and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. He ranked 15th nationally in tackles and led the Big East in tackles. The 6-1, 241 pounder was a Labor Studies major in college but is as yet undecided in his specific career goals after football. Right now, he's just enjoying the NFL experience.
"Today, it was absolutely great," Greene said. "I was just drinking it in, how much fun we were having out there. I've wanted this for such a long time and now to actually be here, it just doesn't get any better than this moment."
In college, Greene had an all-time NCAA record 15 forced fumbles. Does he see similar success ahead in the NFL?
"Of course I do," he said. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't have complete faith in my work ethic and in my abilities on the field. I came to Halas Hall to work and to learn to be a better player, a more complete player. The level of competition here is so great you need to raise your skills immediately to compete. That's the kind of challenge I thrive on."
Greene worked as the strong-side linebacker with the first-team rookies today.
"I think I'll do well," he said. "The first thing I noticed is how large the other players are. That's a big difference from college ball. These guys are fast as well. That will require an adjustment on my part to be consistently successful. But I'm a big guy as well. My speed off the ball is good and I know I can improve even more on that. I'm aggressive. There's nothing I enjoy more than a good solid tackle."
While he's ready to compete at the next level, Greene knows he has a lot of work ahead of him if he's going to be a starting linebacker in Chicago. It's a challenge for which he says he's ready.
"The overall level of competition, that's exciting to me," he said. "Football is no longer something you do along with studying and taking classes. This is now our job, our profession. There is a lot more pressure to succeed. I've always handled pressure well so I'm looking forward to seeing all of this unfold."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.