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April 18, 2012
Derrick Green is a thankful teenager.
The Richmond (Va.) Hermitage running back is the No. 64 player in the Rivals100 and is also one of a select few invited to participate in June's Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta. But the talented back admits none of this would have been possible without his family.
"I have a lot of people that have pushed me and supported me," he said. "My mom, my stepdad, and my coach have been by my side for a long time.
"They saw something special in me and believed in me."
And they saw it early.
At 7, Green moved with his family from Brooklyn, N.Y., and has flourished in Virginia ever since. It was a move that he credits for getting him near 30 scholarship offers and future opportunities.
"I wouldn't be able to do any of this if I were still in New York," he said. "I feel blessed and thankful, and I also feel like I need to really work hard to make everyone proud."
It is his hard work, along with the drive to prove his believers right and doubters wrong, that has been his biggest strength.
"When I was a freshman I weighed in at 268 pounds and was running a 5-(second)-flat (in the 40-yard dash)," he said. "That coach told me he saw me as a defensive tackle and I said, 'I am going to show you.' "
Green came back as a sophomore weighing 215 pounds and running in the 4.4 range in his 40-yard dash. Now the 6-foot, 215-pounder is clocking in the 4.3s but insists his work isn't done and that the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge is where he will take the next step.
"I will be looking to show my skills out there," he said. "I was super excited and honored to be one of the running backs selected to represent the East Coast.
"When that time comes I will be ready, no doubt."
Green added that he is a little nervous because his participation in the camp and combine circuit has been limited. After being very aggressive at camps as a sophomore he hardly has participated since but said that this event was different.
"The competition level is going to be unbelievable," he said. "I wanted to be a part of it. Seeing the different prospects is the best part of being at these things and this one should be the best."
As for his own expectations, Green said that he will not be holding back.
"I want to show everything I have out there," he said. "My agility, I can plant and go, my speed, my hands out of the backfield, everything."
But most importantly he wants to keep making his family proud.
"I play football and I am a family man," he said. "I want to represent them and myself the best I can."
Green is made for football with pads and tackling and stiff-arms, but he is athletic and fast enough to compete on the 7-on-7 stage as well. His straight-line speed will be a challenge for linebackers to deal with and his ball skills have improved greatly. He's arguably the best-looking running back in the country physically with superior lower and upper body strength and legs that will remind you of Earl Campbell.