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October 5, 2010

Mustafa Greene aims to reach century mark

NC State running back Mustafa Greene can't wait to go over the century mark for rushing yards in a game.

The freshman from Irmo, S.C., is on a collision course with his goal, and already has gone over 100 combined rushing and receiving yards the last three games.

Greene has proven to be a revelation for the Wolfpack, coming off the bench. He rushed for a season-high 91 yards on 10 carries, and also caught three passes for 30 against Virginia Tech last Saturday.

Greene broke free through the middle of the field for a 49-yard run, and he can't wait for another chance to break a long one, so he can correct some past mistakes, and get over the century mark.

"I made one too many cuts," Greene said. "That allowed guys to catch up with me. I was just thinking, 'I got to get it in the end zone.' On that play, I just didn't get in there. I slowed down making the cuts and guys caught me from behind. [Next time], I'd just keep running."

Greene had scored a touchdown in each of his first four games. The streak snapped against the Hokies in the 41-30 loss, but he has a chance to start a new one against Boston College on Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium.

"I want to get my speed up, and I want to make more cuts and follow my cuts," Greene said. "My family has always had me aim for 1,000 yards. That's the goal, and I want to work hard every game and see what I can get.

"I also want to get a 100-yard game, and just breakout in a game. I want to just help the team out. I'm not looking too far ahead, just the next game, but I think [the future] will be exciting."

Greene was nicknamed "Moose" while at Irmo High, where he played all four years on the varsity. He joked that fans would scream, "The Moose is loose" at his prep games.

Greene has even become recognizable around campus due to his fast start.

"I had a couple of people saying 'Moose' and everything," Greene said. "That's cool and really funny. They said the 'Moose is loose' a lot in high school."

Greene has rushed for 333 yards on 63 carries and four touchdowns, plus has caught 15 passes for 153. He has proven to be a quick study in pass protection, and has a good connection with redshirt junior quarterback Russell Wilson coming out of the backfield.

"I probably caught at least 20 or 25 passes during the season," said Greene about his senior season at Irmo. "I didn't play in every game because I was injured. There haven't been that many adjustments in the passing game.

"I have to learn how to get my weight up and chop a little bit better [in pass protection]. I'm working on it."

Rivals.com ranked Greene the No. 26 running back in the country, fifth-best downhill runner and No. 13 in South Carolina. Greene and South Carolina freshman running back Marcus Lattimore dominated the headlines at their position. Lattimore was ranked the No. 1 running back in the country, and is also starting for the Gamecocks, giving Greene someone to talk to about what he's going through.

Lattimore had a monster performance against Georgia — rushing for 182 yards on 37 carries and two touchdowns — and has rushed for 366 yards on 84 carries and six scores in four games. He also has six catches for 65.

Lattimore and Greene were teammates for South Carolina in the last year's Shrine Bowl.

"I do try to watch him play sometimes," Greene said. "I've seen him play when he close to 200-plus yards [against Georgia]. I was really happy for him, and texted him, 'Good game, you are a beast.' He texted me too. After the Shrine Bowl, we became texting buddies. He's an outstanding player."

Greene picked NC State over Rutgers during a heated recruiting battle that lasted until Jan. 28. He knew he had the chance to play early with running back Toney Baker passing up a sixth year of college football. Greene quipped that the only time he's thought about Rutgers is when someone joked about how UNC defeated the Scarlet Knights.

"[NCSU tight ends] Coach [Jim] Bridge and [running backs] Coach [Jason] Swepson both emphasized that to me ever since high school, even in the 10th or 11th grade," Greene said. "Once they told me that, I always looked into NC State, and I'm here now."

The speed of the game has been the biggest adjustment for Greene. He remembers the first time getting hit by NC State star middle linebacker Nate Irving, a fifth-year senior, during practice in August.

"Things are just way faster [in college]," Greene said. "I broke a couple of long runs, like during the second scrimmage, and that's when I started to feel real comfortable running behind my linemen.

"You have to warm up going against Nate. You have to make sure you make that right cut because he'll take you down, and Terrell [Manning] is the same way. It's tough playing against those guys, but they make you better."


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