Shortly following the Vols embarrassing 37-20 loss to the Florida Gators, former Tennessee great, Leonard Little, tweeted that there is a formula to winning in the SEC, and it's quite simple... "Run the ball downhill and play good defense. That's it."
While the idea hardly seems novel, it is something more teams need to take to heart... especially the Vols. While the Big Orange faithful are desperate for the Vols to return to the glory days of the 90s, a big change must take place before that happens. The common denominator for all of those teams in the 90s and even into the early 2000s was a stud, power running back and a stubborn defense. Coincidentally (or maybe not), these are also the foundational pieces of the puzzle for current SEC powerhouses, Alabama, LSU, and even South Carolina and Georgia to a lesser extent. It works. While not as essential, this formula extends outside of the SEC as well. Just take a look at last weekend's matchup between Stanford and USC. A talented, pass-happy offense stocked full of 4 and 5-star prospects faced off against a tough, physical running team with 2 and 3-star, and a few 4-star players sprinkled in... the result? Stanford wins for the 4th straight year. No matter how you slice it, to be a dominate team in this league (especially in the SEC) and win championships, you must have a solid running game. This is where Derrick Green comes into the conversation.
Green is a 5-star prospect from Richmond, Virginia, and ranks as the #1 RB in the nation. He is 6'0", 220lbs, runs a 4.4 40-yard dash and a 4.08 shuttle. Without talking to his coaches or even looking at film, those measurables should automatically jump right off the page at you. I do, however, suggest grabbing a box of popcorn and watching his highlight reel... the kid puts on a show when he steps on the gridiron. He has offers from virtually everywhere that is anywhere, so I will save us all an hour and not list all of them. I had the pleasure of interviewing Green after his recent visit to Knoxville to watch the Vols take on the Gators, and it's safe to say, he came away impressed. Check out our conversation below to see how he enjoyed his Tennessee experience.
CBC: "With so much going on this past weekend, what stood out the most to you on your visit to Knoxville?"
Green: "What stood out the most I would say was definitely, hands down, the fan base, game day atmosphere, and just how the team meshed as a real family."
CBC: "How did you enjoy the gameday experience inside Neyland Stadium?"
Green: "Man, gameday was amazing. The crowd was the loudest I have heard so far, it was so electrifying!
CBC: "What is your relationship like with Coach Jay Graham?"
Green: "My relationship with Coach Graham is great... I have known him for 2 years now and our relationship only continues to build."
CBC: "While I am sure you guys discussed a lot of stuff, what did the coaching staff stress the most to you on your visit this past weekend?"
Green: "That they need a running back, and I'm the top guy on their chart that they want. Hands down!"
CBC: "Do you view the Vols recent struggles in the SEC as a negative or more of an opportunity for you?"
Green: "I definitely view it as more of an opportunity because it gives me the chance to get there and bring the Vols back on the map."
CBC: "It's no secret that Tennessee has needed an elite, power RB such as yourself for a while now... Is this a major selling point for you?
Green: "Yes sir, definitely. It just makes me even more interested in the Vols to be able to come in and be that guy!"
CBC: "To conclude, overall, what are the things that attract you to the University of Tennessee?
Green: "First and foremost, the coaching staff... as well as the academics, and definitely the opportunity to come in and start. I love the fan base and family atmosphere too."
As you can see from our convo above, the Vols made a big impact on the highly touted ball carrier. He has stated through other interviews that he fully expects Tennessee to be in the mix for his services until the end. Not to take anything away from the Vols' current backfield, but Green is simply a different breed of running back. Just from watching his film, its obvious that he enjoys contact and enjoys the physicality that accompanies the RB position... something currently missing in the Vols backfield. At the same time, however, he can just as easily run around you and leave you in the dust with his 4.4 speed..... But what I like, personally, is that it's not his first instinct to do that when he gets the ball. He hits the hole hard and runs downhill... and he does it with quick feet and a great elusiveness about him. Ultimately, one lucky team is going to have this guy on their roster next year, and you can bet, he will make an immediate impact. Only time will tell who that will be.
We are thankful to Derrick for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us here at Checkerboardchatter. Be sure to click on the link below to checkout some of his highlights.
Drew Pirtle, Checkerboardchatter.com
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