November 13, 2008

Greene fulfilling his dream

Since the age of seven, Reginald Greene has known that his son wanted to play football. It started back in Pop Warner League where his son, Shonn, lined up at nose tackle and instantly created havoc with the opposing team. Even then, the young Greene loved the physical nature of the game.

"When he first started out, Shonn was a nose tackle," said Reginald Greene. "The reason was because when the center would snap the ball, he would get back to the running back before the quarterback could get there."

One year later, Greene moved to running back and the rest is, shall we say, history. Or, at least, the start of a long journey that led the New Jersey native to where he is today, which is among the top rushers in the nation.

After a detour to prep school at Milford Academy following high school, Greene arrived in Iowa City in 2005 and played in a backup role as a true freshman. Two years later, he had to spend a year at Kirkwood Community College, about 30 minutes from the Iowa campus, to work on his academics. Now, with everything in order, Greene is finally getting his chance to shine.

Shonn Greene was a real legend in South Jersey as a prep star. The Sicklerville native finished his high school career with 4,266 yards rushing and 43 touchdowns. Schools from around the country were interested, but thanks to some strong Iowa connections, he ended up committing to the Hawkeyes.

Reginald Greene, Shonn's father, had played high school football with the brother of former Hawkeye All American Leroy Smith, so he had a working knowledge of what the University of Iowa was all about when they started recruiting his son. The Greene's also built a solid relationship with the coach recruiting their son, Darrell Wilson.

"He recruited Shonn from the beginning and was very honest with us about what Iowa was about and that they would take care of my son," Reginald said.

This past weekend, Reginald Greene got to see how Iowans and Hawkeye fans felt about his son in person. The elder Greene had been to Iowa City a couple of times, most recently to drop off his daughter, Shonte, who is a sophomore at the University of Iowa studying to be a nurse. He had toured Kinnick Stadium on his son's recruiting visit several years ago, but he had never been there for a game.

It turns out he picked a pretty good time to make his initial trip to Kinnick Stadium for a football game. He drove 15 hours with his parents and his oldest daughter to Iowa City and was amazed by the reception he received from Iowa fans on Saturday. Reginald had also heard from his daughter about the "Greene Out", a tribute to his son by the student section, who would wear green shirts instead of the traditional black and gold.

"I thought it was pretty cool," He said. "You never know how something like that is going to come off and if enough people will be involved, but it looked awesome. My daughter bought us each a green shirt during the week, but I guess there were about five or six versions of them."

Before the game, Reginald also picked up a couple of No. 23 jerseys for himself and his parents to wear to the game. Little did he know that heads would immediately be turning due to his son's status on the Iowa football team and his incredible season this year.

"I told some of the people at work when I got back that I don't think I have ever shaken hands with so many people that I didn't know in my entire life," he said. "We are extremely proud of Shonn and we were extremely proud to hear so many nice words from so many Iowa fans."

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