Green (3 tackles, INT) admitted following the game that he wasn’t exactly sure if it was fourth down, but after a brief celebratory moment at the goal line, he realized his error when the defensive coaching staff was clamoring for his attention.
Such is the life of a rookie walk-on that enrolled at UNC in January. There’s plenty of talent on hand – as evidenced by his significant number of snaps with the first team – but there’s plenty of learning left to do.
"I tell you what, that kid has come a long way for just getting here and being here this spring,'' UNC coach Larry Fedora said after the spring game. "He's made some plays for us. You saw him out there today. He's headsy.
"Of course, he had a pick on fourth down on the 2-yard line instead of knocking it down, so he's got some things to learn. And he'll learn from those mistakes. But talent-wise, he really came on.''
Talent has never been the issue for the Laurinburg, N.C. product. Green helped Scotland High School win the state championship in 2011 with a pair of interceptions and earned all-conference honors. He was lightly recruited, however, due not having the test scores he needed to meet NCAA requirements.
Green, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound safety, decided to enroll at Hargrave Military Academy to improve his test scores while showcasing his talents in hopes of securing scholarship offers. Several offers from distant schools did arrive, including one from Cincinnati that Green accepted in December.
But while he was tempted to play for the Bearcats, his preference to play close to home won out.
“I got to the point where I just wanted to stay in North Carolina,” Green said. “I felt like this was my chance to come here and I felt like I could earn a spot and compete with other people on the team.”
Green struck up a relationship with UNC associate head coach for defense Vic Koenning while he was in high school, and that familiarity helped finalize the decision to enroll in January.
The main area where Green feels as though he’s improved the most during his first four months in Chapel Hill has been in learning the playbook.
“I thought it was going to be complicated, but Coach Vic did a great job of breaking it down and teaching me,” Green said.
It helps that an assortment of upperclassmen in the secondary – Tre Boston, Jabari Price and Tim Scott, among others – have aided Green’s rapid development.
“I’m learning a lot from them,” Green said. “I appreciate everything they’ve done. They’ve been patient with me in helping me learn the schemes and how fast the game is going.”
Green describes himself as a headhunter of sorts, relishing the opportunity to hit hard and hit often. The freshman intends to watch film from spring ball this offseason and obtain critiques from coaches and teammates on areas for improvement.