Friday, July 31, 2009

SPORTS >> Green lands immediate eligibility at UA

Nate Allen Media Services

FAYETTEVILLE – He’s not the Arkansas Razorbacks’ best back, just their biggest.

And in football, there are times when it’s better to be bigger than to be the best.

So it was big news when the University of Arkansas announced Thursday that 6-2, 248-pound sophomore running back Broderick Green’s transfer has gone through without a hitch. The former University of Southern California Trojan will have 2009 football eligibility without having to endure the redshirt year usually mandated when a player transfers from one NCAA Division I school to another.

Based on the illness of his grandmother, which forced Green to return close to home, the Little Rock native and Pulaski Academy alum appealed to the NCAA for 2009 football eligibility upon transferring to the UA last January.

He was at USC for two years, redshirting in 2007 and netting 168 yards and three touchdowns in six games as a reserve in 2008.

“Late yesterday afternoon, I got a call from Jon Fagg, our director of compliance that Broderick Green has been granted immediate eligibility which I am excited about and know he’s fired up about,” Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino told media on Thursday. “The timing couldn’t be better as far as knowing before we get started.”

The Razorbacks begin preseason practice next Thursday, now with a big goal-line presence they sorely lacked last year.

Starting tailback Michael Smith is a great back — good enough to net 1,072 yards in 10 games in 2008 and be voted 2009 preseason first-team All-SEC by both coaches and media.

But it was hard for the 5-7, 173-pound Smith to score on fourth-and-goal or power through the pile on third-and-one.

If he shows the burst to propel it, Green has size that’s hard to stop.

“He does gives us that big running back that we need,” Arkansas running back Tim Horton said Thursday. “He is 248 pounds, and last year we struggled in goal-line and short-yardage situations. A lot of it didn’t have to do with scheme, a lot of it didn’t have to do with how hard the back was running. A lot of it had to do with (the fact that) once they were able to get their hands on a 165-pound running back, he went down pretty easy.

“Well, with a 250-pounder hopefully that will be a little more difficult.”

Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino says a bigger back is simply better equipped to withstand short-yardage poundings.

“When you see the short-yardage, goal-line situations,” Paul Petrino said, “you can’t account for everybody. There’s going to be one guy that shows up late and bangs you, but when you are a big back running downhill, you can run right through that, fall forward and get the first down.

“I think that’s definitely something where he’ll help and I think he’s one of our better pass protectors and can also catch the ball really well out of the backfield.”

Those are big plusses, while his USC background brings some intrigue to capture Hog fans’ imaginations. Frankly, though, from observing Green’s 2009 Arkansas spring practices, several came away with more questions than answers. They weren’t alone. Green did, too.

“He wasn’t very happy with his spring ball and really wanted to talk to me about that,” Bobby Petrino said. “I basically said, ‘Hey, you just need to relax a little bit. I didn’t give you as many reps in spring ball as I would have if I knew you were eligible and ready to go. I think we saw what you can do.’

“He did really show a lot of power on short-yardage and goal-line running, and I think he can play full time, too. He’s a very good pass protector.”

Green’s blue period may be over, now that he has the chance to play right away.

“I am excited about the opportunity to play for Arkansas this season,” Green was quoted in a UA press release. “I appreciate the support of Coach Petrino, the rest of the coaching staff and the athletic department administration in helping make this outcome a reality.

“I’m looking forward to competing for the first time as an Arkansas Razorback.”