Eagle's Landing Christian 2013 running back Keyante Green is one of Georgia's top talents and is garnering the attention to match it.
Green has been consistently putting up dominant performances on both sides of the ball, and - in the seven games before he pulled his groin two weeks ago - he had accumulated 88 tackles (12 for a loss and 4.5 sacks) defensively, and rushed for 723 yards on 80 carries.
While the junior running back's moves have generated high interest from many programs, it's the first movers advantage that has most benefitted the schools looking to get interest back.
Despite admittedly growing up a Tennessee fan, Green said a different team has taken over as the No. 1 school on his list because of his strong relationships he has been developing there since his freshman year.
"My top five as it stand, it'd be Georgia first, and then Tennessee, and then Virginia Tech, and then South Carolina, and then Purdue," Green said. "The relationship I have with coach (Bryan)McClendon (is what separates them). I mean, I've been down there at least five times already since I was a freshman and sophomore year, and I've been able to talk to him a lot. Just to have that relationship with him, that I can give him a call and he'll just talk about anything, no matter what it is, not even football."
Knowing that Georgia's coaching staff recognizes that there are things more important than football is what Green said one of the most critical and defining connections he has made with any program.
"Just to see how those coaches put God first, above football and everything, really stands out to me because I put God first in everything I do," Green said. "So just to see how they coach and, I never hear those coaches say a cuss word, not even slip one in."
That connection and feeling of comfort Green said he has with the coaches extends to his experiences with the team, which is another reason he said he had the Dawgs at the top of his list for now.
"Just getting to know those coaches, I've really gotten to know them and the players. I really like the players. (Alec) Olgetree, I've gotten to see him play, I'm from Newnan and he is outstanding. Amarlo Herrera, he's one of the linebackers that I got to talk to, me and him took a picture together when he left because we got selected for something for the news paper and I got to know him," Green said. "Even in that small time we took pictures together I got to know him and just to see how those people are there and I know I have those relationships with those players it just makes it feel a lot closer because I already know people that go there."
Having that sense of closeness with his teammates is important to Green. Even though the McDonough native has racked up 14 touchdowns so far this season, one coming on a kick return and another on a fumble recovery he brought back 65-yards, he stressed that it means more to him to help a teammate score then find the end zone himself.
"I like running back, its fun. Just to know, I mean, scoring touchdowns is just not a very big thing to me, but blocking for a teammate, showing that he can really count on me to block for him and stuff like that, so that they can get a touchdown and they can have a little bit of glory when they score," Green said.
A possible future teammate Green said he'd be very happy to share the glory with is Georgia's standout freshman running back Isaiah Crowell.Green said he was closely watching Crowell at the games he has attended this season and would relish the opportunity to learn and develop in a talent heavy rotation.
"Isaiah is a really good running back. He has been making so much progress in the season and he keeps going. Like, in the Dome, I was at the Georgia Dome game when they played Boise State, and I was at the South Carolina game, and he can block those D-end, and the defense when they are trying to get to the quarterback. He has made progress, I can see blocking, like, to me blocking is a big issue because if you can really block the play just works a lot better than if you can't block," Green said. "So for me and him to switch off when I get there, I would love that because, I mean, playtime as a freshman to me isn't really that big of a deal because, just saying its my first year, I am going to try to get used to everything, and college and see how it is. It's just another step. So, going through that process is going to be a lot of fun, but just making that rotation with him, that would be a whole lot of fun."
While resting up his groin for the next week or two, Green is balancing school, rehab, and recruiting. He said Georgia, Florida State, Tennessee, Purdue, and Arkansas are all keeping in contact, Purdue pushing the hardest in the past and Georgia recently catching up.
Any programs that might want to get in the mix should consider throwing its hat in sooner than later, as Green said he plans to make his decision toward the end of his junior year or in the summer so that he can focus entirely on his senior season.
Until then, he will continue to catch the games he can, saying he'd probably be at Sanford for the Auburn game.
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