There aren’t many local football players who get the opportunity to play Division I college ball, but count Patrick Green in as one of the lucky few. A 2014 Turlock High graduate, Green entered his senior year as the 45th ranked tight end in the nation according to ESPN and earned All-Conference and All-State honors by season’s end.
Now, Green is in the midst of training camp at Northern Arizona University as the sole freshman tight end on scholarship, preparing for the Lumberjacks’ 2014 Big Sky Conference campaign.
“I worked hard for it, so it feels like I should be here,” Green said. “Pretty much, it’s just football 24/7. I like everything about it because it keeps you busy and I’ve learned so much up here that I never knew about football that’s truly making me a better football player.”
Though training camp began on Aug. 4, Green has been at NAU working on strength and conditioning since July 5, further distancing himself from the other walk-on tight ends on the team. Participating in individual and team meetings, studying the playbook, and installing and running new plays, Green has found himself taking first and second team reps during training camp.
“In high school, I was usually the number one guy and stuff. Coming in here, since I’m one of the younger guys as a freshman, it’s different getting used to everyone being just as good as you. You have to work harder,” Green said. “I’ve been here for a while so I have a grasp on everything.”
As a fresh face a NAU, Green has been under the tutelage of senior tight end R.J. Rickert who started seven games in 2013 and finished the season with 22 catches for 246 yards and one touchdown.
“I’ve pretty much learned everything I know from him and the coach. He’s really taken me underneath his wing and just teaching me everything I need to know up here,” Green said of Rickert.
This year, Rickert is expected to run most of the routes while Green will be tasked with more blocking responsibilities. The Lumberjacks will look to this tight end tandem as they attempt to improve on last season’s second place finish in the Big Sky Conference—NAU finished 7-1 with its only loss coming at the hands of 2013 Big Sky Conference champs Eastern Washington University.
“This year when we go double tight I have the opportunity of playing. And you’ll probably see me on a lot of special teams,” Green said. “Mainly this year I’ll be used as a blocker. I can run routes and everything, but I think right now they’re looking at me to block the defensive end and make holes for the running back.”
It won’t be long before Green officially lines up as a Lumberjack. Training camp ends on Aug. 21 and the first game of the season will be held on Aug. 30 against San Diego State University. Until that time comes, Green will continue to work on his mechanics and learn the playbook. But, as Green learned quickly, there’s more to success than mastery of fundamentals.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is the comradery that we have throughout our team; trying to be the tightest team in the country,” Green said. “Being close on and off the field really helps how you will play on the field.”
Green’s first game against the Aztecs will be televised on CBS Sports Network at 4 p.m., so keep an eye out for #84 on the field.
“That first play when I can get out there, that’s what I’m looking forward to the most. Just being able to play college football,” Green said. “We’ve been going over everything and we feel like we have a really good shot this year.”