TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – At this point, after two position switches and injuries that derailed both his second and third seasons at Florida State, Ryan Green can laugh when asked about the road he’s travelled throughout his college career.“It’s been a rough journey,” Green said with a smile. One Green believes will be a lot smoother from here on out.
Because after a short-lived stint at cornerback – he moved to that position from running back in the spring of 2015, but then missed the entire season due to a shoulder injury – Green is back at his natural position in the offensive backfield.
And while no one is threatening Dalvin Cook’s status as the top choice at running back, Green’s performance in fall camp suggests he can be a fine complement for Cook this season.
“Ryan Green has stood out,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Sometimes we’ve got to keep his eyes straight, but he made two really good runs (last week) in the scrimmage.”
Which shouldn’t come as much of a shock.
Although he missed most of his senior season at St. Petersburg Catholic, Green starred at running back as a junior, when he ran for 1,069 yards and 14 touchdowns.
And despite playing behind a loaded backfield that boasted eventual NFL players Devonta Freeman, Karlos Williams and James Wilder, Green still carried 33 times and averaged nearly five yards per carry as a freshman in 2013.
Everything seemed to be on schedule before injuries struck in 2014 – the same year that Cook arrived at Florida State.
While Cook emerged as one of the most exciting young players in college football, Green that year was limited to just six carries in seven appearances.
So it came as little surprise when Green switched to cornerback the following spring, and the move appeared to give Green a boost. He had played the position in high school and, by most accounts, was a quick learner with the defense at FSU.
But, thanks to a shoulder injury suffered before the season opener, Green’s experiment at cornerback effectively ended before it even started.
“I had to watch the team play without me, go to war without me, and that was probably the lowest moment in my life,” Green said. “Just realizing (football) can be taken from you at any moment. That pushed me to grind harder, and work hard.”
Green’s fortunes turned on a seemingly random conversation with coach Jimbo Fisher in the spring. Green was on his way to a defensive backs meeting when Fisher pulled him aside.
“He stopped me and asked what do I do best,” Green said. “And I told him, ‘Coach, I think I run the ball the best.’ And he said, ‘Go to the running back meeting.’
“And that’s how it happened.”
After a brief re-learning curve, Green felt right at home with the running backs, and he’s looked quick and elusive during fall practices.
Exactly where Green will fit in remains to be seen, but a reliable runner who can give Cook an extra breather or two would be a welcome addition to the FSU offense.
Cook enjoyed a sensational sophomore season, but he also touched the ball 254 times last year while dealing with lingering ankle and hamstring injuries.
Now with Green in the mix alongside Cook, junior Johnathan Vickers, sophomore Jacques Patrick and freshman Amir Rasul, the Seminoles believe they have a stable of running backs that can stand up to any in the country.
“We’ve got bruising backs, we’ve got quick backs, and then there’s Dalvin,” Green said. “So I think it’s going to be a problem for any defense.”