July 7, 2012
By Jon Cooper
One of the loneliest positions on last year’s Georgia Tech football team was third wide receiver.
That lack of attention wasn’t lost on sophomore Jeff Greene, who as a freshman last season, was on the field in all 12 games, and was one of several receivers who fell prey to the unintentional freeze-out.
“Last year, you looked at the receivers and the stats they had, our third receiver had zero catches,” said Greene.
“For the receivers, last year, it was whoever’s open is open,” he added. “We had a big target with [Stephen Hill]. We already knew that if it was a go-route he was most likely going to beat the DB. He already knew it was something that was always going to be open.”
Greene believes the days of multiple receivers seeing the ball at Georgia Tech not only are in sight, but are already here.
There’s a hungry and talented receiving corps, which features himself, fellow sophomore Darren Waller, redshirt senior Chris Jackson and sophomore Jeremy Moore, that will give Tech’s quarterback options.
The group can’t wait to show what it can do and start building up those catch totals.
“It’s something where you want to get out there and get that first one under your belt,” he said. “When we do get the ball thrown to us, we are hungry for it just to go up and get it and make that first catch.”
Greene knows that making that first catch, and, he hopes, many others, is dependent on his getting open, which has been a focal point for his off-season workouts.
“Mainly in the off-season I worked on getting off the jams from DBs,” he said. “We had one-on-ones with the other cornerbacks and my route-running because if you can’t run the right routes you can’t get open and you can’t get the ball. I mainly worked on those two things.”
He also wanted to improve his conditioning, which was at the top of the to-do put together by head coach Paul Johnson and wide receivers coach Al “Buzz” Preston.
“Getting my stamina up, making sure I’m ready to go at all times,” said the Peachtree City native and former Starr’s Mill High School star, where he teamed with current Yellow Jacket Zach Laskey. “Even if I have to do 50 plays in a row, as long as I’m out there doing them. A lot of good things he had were blocking and going up to get the ball. So there was a lot of good input from Coach Johnson and Coach Buzz.”
Greene, who was listed at 6-4, 200 in the Spring, hopes his work in the weight room will contribute to his success. He’s already seeing results from that work, as he’s put on 10 pounds and, ideally, would like to add five more and play at 215. But he admits that even staying at 210 might be difficult for him, as he’s never been one to keep weight on.
“I’ve had trouble because, as a receiver, I’m constantly running, so you put the weight on and the next day you take it all off because we’re young and I have a high metabolism,” he said. “So it’s hard for me. I eat so much food but I gain like one pound, if that. I’ve been working on that. I’ve been talking with our nutritionist to find better things I can eat so it will stick on me.”
While Greene remains literally hungry, he is excited about a different kind of hunger that he’s seen in the twice-weekly seven-on-sevens that the receivers and secondary have had.
“Everybody’s out there trying to get that No. 1 spot,” he said. “So a senior [corner] Rod [Sweeting] is out there, [junior corner] Louis [Young] and [redshirt-junior DB] Jemea [Thomas] are out there making big strides. [Redshirt sophomore safety] Fred [Holton] is back, he’s healthy now, so he’s been out there working with us too. So everybody’s getting better.”
Greene believes all the hard work and that hunger will come to the forefront when Tech goes to work for real on Labor Day against Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg.
“This first game is a big one for us and could determine who goes to the ACC Championship,” he said. “So this first game is a big one that we really have to do well in. A player, no matter who your competition is, you’re ready to go out there and grind and give it your all.”