by Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan)
At the end of spring practice, Northwestern running back Treyvon Green couldn’t have envisioned being where he is right now. After running better than he ever had before in the spring, he couldn’t have envisioned being third on the depth chart through four games in the fall, and he couldn’t have envisioned rushing for just 60 yards and a touchdown in all four games combined. That wasn’t the plan.
But in football, things hardly go as planned, and Green found that out in fall camp, when he was hospitalized after taking a big hit in practice. He was taken off the field in an ambulance, and while it appeared the injury could be a lot worse, Green only ended up with a concussion. Still, it was a frightening experience and one that caused him to miss a lot of time on the field.
“I’ve never had a concussion, never had a really serious injury,” Green said. “It was scary. Just the impact of it and going to the hospital and everything like that, everything that came with it kind of made it scary.”
By the time Green got back out on the practice field in the fall he had been supplanted by Venric Mark and Trumpy in the two-deep. Trumpy passing him was likely a given, but Mark’s meteoric rise was a surprise and has caused Green to miss out on a lot more carrier than previously expected, even after the injury.
Mark has 72 carries this year and Trumpy has 28, while Green has just 17. Through four games last year, as a true freshman, Green had 33 carries.
“It’s not like he’s done anything wrong, it’s just right now you have two guys that are playing really, really well in Venric and Trumpy,” running backs coach Matt MacPherson said. “With Venric getting the load of the carries there are not a whole lot left over after that, and Mike’s taken advantage of the ones he’s gotten, but Trevyon’s done a good job when he’s been in there.”
That’s Green’s focus — proving himself when he can, even if that isn’t the role he expected.
“Right now (Mark) is doing a great job, and also our other backs are doing a great job,” Green said. “We have a stable of running backs that are doing well right now. I just have to take advantage of the opportunity that I get and make the most of it.”
Because of the inury, Green wasn’t able to make the most of his opportunities early on. He was cleared to play, but there’s a big difference between being medically cleared and being ready in the mind, especially after such a big hit.
“I think initially I was (hesitant) — maybe like the first game or so — just because you’re not going against your teammates; they’re not going to take it easy on you,” he said. “The guys we were going against, of course they want to take your head off. At first — maybe a game or two — I just kind of (was trying to) get back in the groove of things and get that nervousness out of me.”
Green had just nine carries for 18 yards in his first three games, but he started to return to form against South Dakota, rushing for 48 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. The touchdown was especially important in his development, as he broke away from the defense for a 34-yard score. That could be a turning point for his season.
“I thought I showed what the coaches saw in the spring of me, just making my moves, seeing the whole field and scoring touchdowns,” he said. “It boosted my confidence a lot just because it’s been four games now and that was my first touchdown, so of course I came into the season (and) my goals were not just to score one touchdown.”
MacPherson saw a change after that run, as well.
“He’s had a little more juice today, so I think that fired him up a little bit,” MacPherson said.
With two backs ahead of him on the depth chart, it’s unlikely Green will end up with the role he envisioned this year. But if he keeps improving and builds off Saturday’s performance, the carries may continue to come. Nothing is certain in football, as Green knows all too well.
“A lot of things have changed from last year, just pertaining to my role,” Green said, “and you just have to take it and run with it, just the opportunities that we get.”