Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 3/26/12
TALLAHASSEE Florida State found quite the playmaker last season in perhaps the most surprising of wide receivers: true freshman Rashad Greene. And had it not been for a midseason ankle injury, Greene would have shattered nearly every FSU freshman receiving record. But despite missing four games, Greene led FSU in receptions (38), receiving yards (596) and touchdown catches (seven). He was electric from the start, scoring on his first catch a 28-yard touchdown from reserve quarterback Clint Trickett in the season-opening win over Louisiana-Monroe. Greene went on to snag touchdowns in his first five games, becoming the first FSU player since 2000 to do so. Few college football teams in the nation return as deep a receiving corps as FSU. Four players Greene, Rodney Smith, Kenny Shaw and Christian Green all had 25 or more grabs in 2011. The most dangerous of the group is Greene, a 6-foot target who seems to find openings with ease, but even when he is covered its been tough to keep him from making the catch. This being his sophomore year coming up, I think hes going to be even better for us, FSU senior quarterback EJ Manuel said. And I think hes a guy that once you give him the ball he is going to make a play for you. He can take it 60 yards. He can run down the field, you can drop it over a defensive back. He poses a hard matchup for DBs out there. Defensive backs clearly struggled to match up in 2011 against the slippery Greene, who had a rookie season that was arguably second only among FSU freshmen to Tamarick Vanovers 1992 campaign (42 receptions, 581 yards, four touchdowns in 11 games). Greene had an impact on FSUs first five games, catching the 28-yard touchdown in the opener, a 69-yard TD catch against Charleston Southern, a 56-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown against Oklahoma, an eight-catch, 98-yard day at Clemson, and then set season highs with 12 receptions for 163 yards at Wake Forest. He was injured Oct. 8 against the Demon Deacons and missed the next four games. The ankle was slow to heal, but Greene had a 53-yard run on an end-around against Virginia. Greene then grabbed five passes for 99 yards in the bowl win over Notre Dame, including a diving 33-yard grab down the sideline that set up FSUs first touchdown of the fourth quarter. He later put FSU ahead for good with a 15-yard TD grab from Manuel. The performance in the bowl game capped an impressive debut for the quiet and reserved Greene, who also excelled in his first year at FSU by posting a 3.9 GPA. It was quite surprising, Greene said. But it was fun for me. My expectations going into the year was to get better and to help the team any way that I could. The opportunity came to me and my number was called. And Greene could hear his number called more often this season, too. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher praised Greene this spring as much for his work ethic and leadership on the field as for his focus in the classroom. Fisher sees Greene as a positive influence to teammates both older and younger and also a talent who should be getting the ball in his hands. He has to get his touches, Fisher said. We are going to use him in a lot of different ways. That, of course, is music to the ears of any wide receiver. But Greene may be the antithesis of the me-first wideout who thinks hes open every play and lets the quarterback, offensive coordinator and everyone else in the stadium know it. Thats just not Greenes style. Greene struggled during a seven-minute sit-down with reporters last week to use the word I without immediately attaching it to team or teammates. (Coach Fisher) wanting to get the ball in my hands makes me feel like more of a leader for the team, Greene said. If me getting the ball more is going to help the team win a game, then I am all in for it. If not getting the ball and (instead) blocking, I am all for that, too. Greene may indeed draw plenty of attention this fall and that may allow FSUs other talented receivers to get open. He thinks that, barring injuries, the Seminoles receivers will be able to run wild on offense and will benefit from a veteran quarterback and more experienced line. Its so talented that we should be unstoppable as a receiving corps, Greene said. The line is going to do a great job this year. EJ is getting better. Everybody is getting better. And so is Greene. He is a gifted player, someone Fisher calls phenomenally talented. But Fisher thinks that Greene is also one of the smartest and hardest workers, too. I could sit here and go on and on about him, Fisher said. The guy is just an exceptional, exceptional young man.
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