Greener Pastures

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November 5, 2001
Greener Pastures

(Note: this piece was written a day prior to William Green receiving a one-game suspension due to undisclosed rule violations. The suspension was Green’s second in the past year.)

Boston College could not have picked a better time to launch William Green‘s Heisman campaign.

Early last week, the school began mailing out flyers touting the junior running back after Green posted the best performance of his career in a nationally televised win over Notre Dame.

With ESPN‘s cameras rolling, Green opened the game by scoring on a 71-yard run. He followed that up with a 70-yard score on a pass play early in the third quarter.

All told, Green accounted for 262 of BC’s 354 total yards on the afternoon, 195 of which came on the ground against a Fighting Irish run defense that had given up just 682 total rushing yards through its first seven games.

Green and the 6-2 Eagles return from a week off to face the top-ranked Miami Hurricanes in a key Big East match-up this Saturday, a possible showcase for Green’s Heisman candidacy (ABC will broadcast the game regionally).

Then, following what should be an easy match-up with Rutgers (last year, Green rushed for 223 yards on 22 carries against the Scarlet Knights), Green closes the year against Syracuse. The ‘Canes and Orangemen are ranked, respectively, 22nd and 16th in the nation in total team defense, and both are top 25 teams.

More than a few questions about William Green should be answered in the coming weeks. Is he a fluke that’s benefited from a weak schedule? Is he a legitimate award candidate? More importantly, is he a viable NFL prospect? We should have a much better idea by November 24.

For now, here’s what we do know about Green. He’s big and certainly strong enough (6’1", 215) to run between the tackles and while he’s not blazing fast, Green certainly has enough speed to get outside and turn the ball up field. His keen field vision, solid footwork and deceptive quickness make him an elusive and difficult back to bring down. He’s also a workhorse. Green has averaged 27 carries a game this year and accounts for 44% of Boston College’s total offensive output each week.

Green’s large role is partly by design, but mainly out of necessity. The Eagles’ passing game is sub par, to say the least (Eagle quarterbacks have yet to throw for more than 250 yards in any game this year), which means Green is the team’s only reliable offensive weapon.

Still, despite defenses keying on him, Green has managed to rack up 1,164 yards through 8 games this season (second in the nation) while scoring 14 rushing TD’s. It marks his second 1,000-yard season, and yet, unbelievably, some scouts still think Green is only scratching the surface of his talent. Which brings us to the question of Green’s eligibility.

The junior said prior to the 2001 season that he had made a four-year commitment to Boston College and that he intended to honor it. But that was before his name started being mentioned as a possible Heisman candidate. It was also before scouts started grading out 2002’s weak senior running back class.

Only UCLA’s DeShaun Foster is a surefire first rounder, and even he has his skeptics (his costly fumble Saturday against Washington State didn’t help matters). In fact, here’s how suspect the rest of the class is: The Sporting News ranks Nebraska QB Eric Couch as the thirteenth-best senior running back. A quarterback!

So, if he declares this year, Green could find himself going in the first round, perhaps even among the top ten, maybe even the top five — he has that much talent.

But first, he has to show his worth against the Hurricanes and Orangemen, because there are still some who think Green’s big numbers are a result of a thus far weak schedule (in his only games against quality opponents this year — Stanford and Virginia Tech — Green totaled 177 yards on 46 carries with one TD). If he performs up to expectations and proves he’s not a fluke, expect Green’s NFL stock to soar.

And for Boston College’s Heisman campaign to escalate.

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