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Green works himself into a star

Derrick Green is dedicated.

Green has already landed 14 scholarship offers from the likes of Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, South Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.

Between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Green dedicated himself to losing 50 pounds so he could be Richmond (Va.) Hermitage’s featured running back.

When he’s not immersed in football-related activities or his school work, through his mother’s strong influence, the 6-foot, 215-pound Green is dedicated to helping others less fortunate, whether that’s feeding the homeless or talking with young kids that can’t keep themselves out of trouble.

On Sunday morning, Green is dedicated to being the first one in his family to wake up for church.

Ranked as the nation’s No. 12 running back, and No. 85 prospect overall in the class of 2013, Green knows what’s important to him, has his priorities straight, and dedicates all his time to it.

Seeing the fruits from his labor

Like a lot of mothers, Fran Knight was reluctant to allow her oldest son Derrick play football.

The sheer violence of the game and opportunity from injury had her cringing as she signed the papers for Green to start playing organized youth football.

Good thing for Knight, it was her chubby son wreaking all the havoc as a defensive lineman.

“He always seemed to be in on every play,” Knight said. “He was really fast and was in on every tackle.”

At one point during youth football, Green and his friends went undefeated for five-straight years, with him lining up all over the trenches. However, the whole time, Green wanted to be an every-down running back.

By middle school, Green was playing some fullback, and he arrived at Hermitage tipping the scales at 268 pounds. He made the varsity as a reserve fullback and linebacker, but Green wasn’t happy about the amount of snaps he was getting.

“At the end of my freshman season, I spoke with my coach and told him next year I’ll be your starting running back,” Green said. “The only words he said was let’s see it.”

“Every year kids say stuff like that to me,” Hermitage head coach Patrick Kane said. “I say show me, don’t tell me.”

Green did.

The first thing Green did was signup with a personal trainer.

“My first day of training, I told my trainer I was 268,” Green reminisced with a laugh. “He said I don’t see you as a running back. I said I see you as a defensive tackle. That drove me so much. I was working so hard. That drove me and pushed me.”

Through the winter and into the spring, Green gradually started shedding pounds. He never missed a workout and stuck to a strict diet.

“I ate a lot of salad,” Green stated. “I stopped drinking soda and juice. No more fried food. I stayed away from bread and drank a lot of water. I was going to school and people would say Derrick, you look small. That made me start working harder and harder.”

Kane couldn’t help but notice the shrinking Green living in his weight room at the school, and that drive and determination has him excited about his blue-chip back more than anything.

“He is the most dedicated to working out whether it be lifting and running that I’ve ever seen,” Kane said. He’s been coaching high school football for 25 years including the last 11 at Hermitage. “He really gets after it and it’s important to him and it’s made him the player he is.”

Green got his chance to tote the rock regularly in the fall of his sophomore season, rushing for over 700 yards and 10 touchdowns in helping Hermitage go 13-1 on the season.

No better time to start than now

For a while, it was just Knight and Green.

The two moved from New York to Virginia when Derrick was five. Fran landed a good job as a corrections officer, which eventually led her to her current work in running her own counseling service.

“I thought it was a need,” she said. “They were just locking up kids and not giving them treatment. They were just putting them in jail and not giving them help.”

Now remarried with another son and nephew living at her home, Fran decided it was on her to help. Her company is dedicated to showing kids there’s other avenues. The message to the youth, what you’ve done in the past is not as important as what you do today and in the future.

Helping folks is all Derrick knows, and the plan for as long as he could remember is make the NFL and give back to the community. He just decided to not wait on the NFL part.

“He’s a helper,” Knight said. “He just wants to help.”

“I love it,” Derrick added. “Seeing the fire in their eyes and the joy when I do give back is a great feeling to me. Running a business that helps give back, feeding the homeless and doing different things to give back is what I want to do after football.”

Working with the homeless has been more life changing to Derrick than the pounds he left behind in the Hermitage weight room. He plans to major in business, but recently started taking a psychology class.

“Seeing all those hungry people and how blessed I am,” Green said. “I think that’s the best part, putting a smile on their faces.”

Recruiting takes off

For the past two years, Green has been putting a smile on college recruiters faces.

Going from self-reported 5.2 speed as a heavy freshman, to losing 40 pounds and finding 4.4 speed, Green has already landed 14 scholarship offers from the likes of Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, South Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.

He had another big season this fall, rushing for over 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns in helping lead Hermitage to a 12-1 campaign.

“When you look at him, you say he’s a big dude, and when you see he’s a 4.4 kid that can take it to the end zone at any time, it’s easy to see what these college coaches like,” Kane explained.

Kane has had blue-chippers before, most recently in All-American linebacker and current Ohio State freshman Curtis Grant, and he sees the same good things happening for Green. Virginia was the first program to offer Green during his sophomore season.

“I was so excited and so shocked,” Green said. “I was speechless.”

Virginia Tech jumped into the mix later that week, and pretty soon the offers started rolling in.

With Grant being at Ohio State, the Buckeyes are one of the program’s Green is most familiar with. He keeps in regular touch with assistant coaches Jim Bollman and Dick Tressel and visited Columbus for the Wisconsin game during the season, and once over the summer.

“I have a big interest in Ohio State,” Green said. “I grew up liking Ohio State, but my mind can change to any school. All these schools that have offered have different things.”

Green has yet to speak to Grant since Urban Meyer was hired a little over two weeks ago as the Ohio State coach, but he himself is excited about the former Florida coach now working on the Buckeyes campus.

“I know Coach Meyer is a great coach and did a lot of big things at Florida,” Green said. “I think he’s going to be a big asset for them. Hopefully they start winning some games.”

Green made it to a recent Virginia junior day and attended the Cavaliers season finale against Virginia Tech.

“I like how they’re a family, an all-around team,” Green said. “I love the coaching staff there from Coach (Jim) Reid to Coach (Jeff) Hanson to the head coach Coach (Mike) London. Everybody is great up there, and I know a lot of people there and players. On my visit up there I had a really good time.”

Green made it to Virginia Tech during the fall for the Boston College game.

“I know they run the ball a lot,” Green said. “I speak to the running backs coach and he came up to see my last Thursday.”

Green also got a chance to check out West Virginia for the LSU game.

“I’ve been talking to Coach (Daron) Roberts,” Green said. “It was great when I went there for the LSU game. Just the atmosphere and how the fans were so into the game, I loved it and had a really good time. Coach Roberts seems like a recruiter that will be real with you and I feel like when I talk to him he’s 100 percent with me.”

The only other game Green made it to was Notre Dame’s neutral site game against Maryland in Landover. Green has been chatting with Irish running backs coach Tim Hinton, and feels they could be close to offering.

“I have a good feeling it’s coming,” Green said adding he’d be very interested. “When I talked to Coach Hinton, he told me they really need a back and he was telling me how I fit into that style of offense. He was telling me a lot of good things.”

Green says he isn’t favoring any schools early in the process, and now that his junior season is over, he’ll soon sit down with his mother to talk about the next step in recruiting. Knight says she’s fortunate to have learned a few things from Grant’s mother in how to handle the process.

“It’s like running another business,” Knight said. “I have my own business and I’m running Derrick’s as well.”

Green doesn’t have any future visits scheduled, but knows what he’s looking for in a school.

“I’d say first and foremost the academics,” Green said. He has a 3.0 GPA. “They have to be great academics. I know my goal, whether I get drafted or not, I want to get my degree. Number two would be coaching staff. I have to have a good relationship with coaching staff. Three would be early playing time. I’m a bull and I’m coming out of the gate. Fourth would be atmosphere.”

Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

Green learned the word dedication from his mother. Everything she’s done has been to provide for him and the family. Wherever he ends up going to college, that dedication will come with.

“We’ve always been really close because for a long time it was just me and him till I got remarried,” Knight began. “He has a special place in my heart. I’m looking forward to him going to college but not wanting to see that bedroom empty. Me and my husband have decided wherever he goes we’re going to move so we can stay close to him.”

Green is happy about that.

“My mom always tells me she wants to be at all my games,” Green said. “She hasn’t missed a game yet and she doesn’t want to start now. The bond that we have is great.”

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