WHEN LAST HEARD from, Eddie (Remember Me?) Green was: 1. in the middle of a competitive recruiting war; 2. going one-on-one with the ACT; 3. eating himself out of a job; 4. fading into the woodwork at BYU. No wonder that when Green returns to his home in Ogden these days, his friends think he's history.
"They think I must have got kicked out of school, because they never hear about me anymore," he says.We can report that Eddie Green is still a football player at BYU, all right, and still full of promise, as always. But time is running out.
"It's time to put up or shut up," said Green last week, as the Cougars reached the midway point of spring football practice.
Eddie Green. Does the name ring a bell? When he came out of Ogden's Ben Lomond High School three years ago, Green, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound football-basketball-baseball-track star, was one of the state's two top football recruits, the other being a kid named Scott Mitchell. (Maybe you've heard of him.) While Mitchell's career has taken off, Green's has been grounded.
Coaches are watching Green closely in spring practice this month, hoping he's ready to go in his junior season. Positions are, after all, won and lost in spring practice, not in the fall.
"This is a crucial spring for Eddie Green," says BYU Coach LaVell Edwards. "You always have four or five players you're real interested in during spring ball, because at one time or another they have demonstrated ability that they can help you. But they also have lacked in other areas."
Green has lacked in some areas, but talent is not one of them. Since surviving his publicized battle with the ACT test (he passed on his third try), he has struggled in the classroom. ("There were times when I didn't think he was going to make it," says line coach Tom Ramage.) His work habits have been enough to make coaches sometimes pull their hair out, and, oh yes, then there's his weight.
Green spent his first two years at BYU as a linebacker, but by the end of his sophomore year he had grown right out of the position. His weight ballooned 30 pounds to 265, and by the following spring he reached 280 pounds. "He ate himself into a defensive lineman," Edwards said at the time. Moved to defensive tackle last year, Green wound up redshirting the season to learn the new position.
"It's just maturity," says Edwards of Green's struggles. "He's no different than a lot of guys. But not a lot of guys have his talent."
Ah, Green's athletic ability. In high school, he batted well over .500 for two years in baseball - or about double his weight - became the school's career assist leader in basketball (UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian once sent him a letter after watching him play), placed second in the state in the shot put and was a two-time all-state pick in football. He was both a running back and a linebacker in football, rushing for several 100-yard games (once for 175 yards and four TDs) before injuries forced him to play linebacker fulltime. That was enough to get him recruited by Washington, UCLA, Oregon State and the in-state schools.
"He really has talent," says Ramage today. "He's got good quickness and athletic ability."
Still, Green has no guarantee of immediate playing time. With the addition of two transfers, the Cougars' defensive line, once considered a liability, is a strong one. Tim Adams, a one-time starter for Kansas, has moved into the starting noseguard spot; Bud Orr and Craig Patterson are the starting tackles, hard-pressed by newcomer Rich Kaufusi, a fast 6-foot-4, 265-pound junior from Dixie College who will have an immediate impact next year.
"He's the first really quick lineman we've had here since Jason Buck," says Ramage. "He can do everything." To boot, Pete Harston, a returning starter, is sitting out spring ball with an injury.
So where does all this leave Green? He's No. 2 behind Orr.
"He's doing all right," says Edwards. "He's making a good contribution. But it's really competitive."
Don't be surprised if Green isn't promoted this spring. For one thing, he's not much of a practice player and never has been. "His work habits could still improve," says Ramage.
Green agrees: "I'm a totally different player in a game. Playing against the same guy everyday gets boring. As soon as the kickoff comes, I'm ready."
At least Green's weight and grades are heading the right directions. He's down to 270 pounds. "Coaches don't believe it, but for a while I was just growing," he says. "I eat one meal a day if I'm lucky."
Green, an improving student, expects to graduate next winter in recreation administration, but he might have to wait longer for significant playing time. Says Green, advancing his cause, "I just need the opportunity to play. Every time I've gotten the opportunity I've per-formed."