TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Cassandra Greene knows it’s difficult to get her son to open up. As she says, it can be like pulling teeth.
Rashad Greene is one of the most unassuming college football stars. There’s nothing silent, however, about the Florida State senior’s game. He has the opportunity to break every major receiving record at a university that has produced Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff, Peter Warrick, Anquan Boldin, Javon Walker and Ron Sellers.
”We say he’s been here before because he’s so responsible and he’s always carried himself as a respectful and responsible young man,” Cassandra Greene said. ”It’s not a show. That is Rashad.
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”If he doesn’t have to be in the spotlight, he won’t be mad. At. All.”
Staying out of the spotlight can be challenge at Florida State. The second-ranked Seminoles were off last week and play at Louisville on Thursday night. The defending national champions and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston always seem to be in the news.
Greene has been able to fly under the radar even though he has already set the Florida State career receptions record at 223. He is 343 yards shy of breaking Sellers’ career receiving yards record, which has stood since 1968. He’s on pace to break that in four games. Greene also has Warrick’s career receiving touchdowns record in his sights, just six TDs shy of claiming that one also.
But setting records were never his goal when Greene decided to go Florida State. He simply wanted to outwork everyone – wanted to prove his worth. The records have just been a byproduct.
”I definitely want to be legendary in this game,” Greene said after some prodding. ”That’s why I put so much work into it. Most important, I enjoy it. … I love doing it. I feel like I still have a lot to prove.
”I just want to show people that I’m just as good a receiver as anybody in the country.”
The thing is, Greene might have a Napoleon Complex.
He isn’t exactly physically imposing at 6-foot, 180 pounds. Greene doesn’t have sprinter speed, though he always seems to be running away from defenders. There’s nothing about him in street clothes that instills fear in the opposition.
That seems to be the first impression everyone has of Greene, dating to when he transferred to Florida high school powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas before his junior year. The country boy nicknamed Nook-Nook from Albany, Georgia, had to prove he deserved a spot on a team that won its fifth state title and first national championship the previous year.
People were saying that ”I would be just another number,” Greene said. ”At that point I definitely started making my circle a lot tighter. I don’t deal with a lot of people at all.
”A lot of people said I’m too little. I can’t do this and can’t do that. … My size will never be a determining factor of how I play the game. I just always wanted to prove myself because a lot of people doubted me.”
The doubters are still there even though Greene ranks No. 9 in the country receiving yards per game.
NFL Media Analyst and former scout Bucky Brooks explained the league is enamored with sizable receivers and that Greene will need to show he can still be effective at the next level.
”He’s an excellent route-runner. He’s super-quick in and out of his breaks. Catches the ball really well,” Brooks said. ”I think he’ll be a nice complement as a secondary receiver or a backup.
”His slight frame will work against him. … If he doesn’t run fast, then you just kind of worry, can he work himself open? What will his durability be like? What is his role on the team?”
But that isn’t Greene biggest challenge. No, that comes from within: Dealing with the absence of his father.
Gregory Greene, who quit his job and moved Rashad away from his brothers and his mother- with her blessing – to pursue the opportunity at St. Thomas Aquinas, was imprisoned in 2013 on a drug charge.
”I never really spoke on it,” Greene said. ”That’s the toughest battle I’ve had to fight through and my family had to fight through. It made me stronger. It made us stronger as a family.
”It gives me another type of motivation. … I always strive for the best to be able to put my mom in a better situation and when my father returns home, that he be in a better situation. That’s the biggest thing I’ve had to battle about. … I just kind of dealt with it on my own.”
That’s Greene’s way, but it doesn’t mean he won’t speak out.
At least twice this season Greene has taken control of the locker room with the Seminoles trailing at halftime – contrary to his nature.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher compares Greene to another star athlete who quietly went about his business.
”He is a Derek Jeter-type guy,” Fisher said. ”He makes all of the big plays in the big moments in the big games. He carries himself with class. He carries himself with dignity.
”He is a tremendous leader on the team and he seeks no attention.”