Posted by: marcmwm | August 31, 2008

Greene grow the rushes . . .

That headline is an REM song from 1985’s “Fables of the Reconstruction.”

I used to really love REM. “Reckoning” is still one of my favorite all-time albums. (And, for me, back in 1983, it was an album, vinyl, something you put a needle on and sound came out. Something my kids will never know.)

Now, “Greene grow the rushes” is a running back to me. Funny, the headline still works.

Greene runs wild in return

By Marc Morehouse
Photo

(Brian Ray/The Gazette)
Iowa running back Shonn Greene tries to elude Maine’s Levi Ervin (right) during the first quarter Saturday in Iowa City. Greene rushed for 109 yards in his Hawkeye return.

IOWA CITY — Shonn Greene spent last year’s season opener in the stands. Then he might’ve had to hurry off to work or a study session.

This year, he played and then he was hit with a pop quiz.

First 100-yard game since?

“Uhhh, Ball State,” the Iowa running back said.

First touchdown since?

“Don’t remember that one.”

It’s OK. A lot of people are looking up that one after Saturday.

After sitting out last season because of academics, Greene, a 23-year-old South New Jersey native, rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown in the Hawkeyes’ 46-3 victory over Maine.

Last year at this time, Greene was a spectator. Sometimes, he wasn’t even that. He was a working man, putting in his time at McGregor Furniture in Iowa City. He also was studying his way back into the University of Iowa at the Kirkwood Community College campus in Iowa City.

He attended two games at Kinnick. He caught a few others on TV, if he wasn’t working.

“Working, support myself, pay for school,” Greene said. “It was something I learned from. I think I made a positive out of it and found my way back here.”

When Greene was gone last season, he was gone. He was a recruitable athlete. NCAA rules restrict contact between schools and athletes. He also was out of Iowa’s realm. No academic support. No training table. His only social tie to the football team was former running back and roommate Albert Young.

Greene was in Iowa City, but for all intents and purposes he might as well have been in Moose Factory.

“We really didn’t see much of him,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He kind of stayed to himself. At one point, I was wondering if he had plan B going.”

Greene’s plans always included Iowa City. He was accepted back in school in June and spent the summer in conditioning drills with his teammates. He’s said he wants to prove himself in school as much as he wants to on the field.

But this day, the immediate rush was football.

Greene carried the ball for the first time since Oct. 14, 2006, at Indiana. He knew his last 100-yard game was Ball State, but did you know that was the 2005 season opener, nearly three full years ago? His last touchdown? You have to go back to Purdue 2006, when he put in his best game as a Hawkeye, rushing for 88 yards and a TD.

The last time he felt this kind of satisfaction? Probably when he got the green light to re-enroll this summer.

“I love football,” Greene said. “Football is my life. What a great sigh of relief when I stepped out on that field and played the game. It felt really good.”

Quarterback Jake Christensen noticed in the first half that Greene was “sucking air,” which is athlete speak for darned tired.

“Yeah, yeah,” Greene said. “First game back, a little winded. I think I’m going to be much better than that. I’ll be all right.”

When it looked as if Greene might return, Ferentz downplayed it. He was cautious about the academics and was trying to recruit running backs. After Jevon Pugh left in March, Iowa had no running back with a career carry on the roster until Greene was OK’d in June.

“In our minds, we were hoping, but it wasn’t written in ink,” Ferentz said.

After week one, you can write it in eye black.

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