By: Barry Barnes, Founder
The depth chart of the USC football program is noted as being one of the best in the country and their pipeline to the NFL is a flowing stream. Now, currents don’t always flow smoothly, but as long as the stream makes it through the passage to reach the ending point, it’s a job well done.
For San Francisco 49ers rookie tight end Kevin Greene, his passage has been a little shaky and slightly clogged. Nevertheless, Greene’s water is flowing well through the straight and narrow which is heading towards an active roster spot as a solid blocking tight end or special teams specialist.
Greene’s talent opened a door for his to get recognized by USC and that’s why he became a Trojan as a linebacker.
After his red-shirt year, Greene’s flow started to take a turn through USC’s pipeline.
Greene was switched over to the defensive end position and he held the spot for three seasons. Then, another twist came when USC coaching staff moved him to the other side of the ball and landed him to the tight end position.
Normally, a journey does not go according to plan. Greene was not expecting to finish his career at USC playing a different position, let alone, becoming an offensive player. Despite the changes, his passage still led him to the NFL.
But Greene still has unfinished business.
“It (being in the NFL) feels great, it feels great. It’s something that I’ve definitely have been looking forward to for a long time,” said Greene. “My journey, in particular, was a lot different than a lot (of) guys coming out of USC. But I try my best to stick through it (the process) and so far so good. But I have a long way to go.”
Greene did not wow scouts and his college coaching staff with his hands. However, Greene displays a work ethic that can not go ignored. When 49ers veteran tight end Vernon Davis was asked about his undrafted rookie teammate during training camp, Davis stated that, “He (Greene) works very, very hard.”
The California native exceled in his role as a member of special teams for USC. Due to the constant change of positions, Greene was not on the NFL radar. Greene needed an extra push through his pipeline so his flow towards the NFL could continue.
Enter the NFL Regional Combine.
Greene took the next step by registering for the Combine and he participated in the workouts held in Los Angeles in February. His journey continued as he stood out from among the hundreds of NFL hopefuls who attended.
“I basically saw that (the Regional Combine) as a step for me during my journey,” said Greene. “I saw all those guys out there and I told myself I got to go out there and compete as hard as I can, and if I could leave that Regional Combine impressing as many scouts as I can, I did my job.”
Greene succeed and was invited to the Super Regional Combine, which was held early April in Detroit. After another solid workout in front of team scouts, the 49ers signed him on May 27.
Since wearing the red and metallic gold, Greene has been going at 100 percent. The 49ers are deep at the tight end position with the likes of Davis, Vance McDonald and Derek Carrier. With those talented pass catchers on the roster, Greene’s journey as a Niner may have a ripple effect.
Thus far, the transition has been steady and Greene is showcasing his talent and passion at blocking and, of course, on special teams.
In his NFL debut, Greene took the field in the fourth quarter of the team’s match up against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1 of the 2014 preseason. He ran his route hard and fast, selling to the defense that he was being targeted. Some of the Ravens bit. Greene did his job, although, he was filled with jitters.
“Ah man, I was kind of nervous (laughter), I was real nervous man,” said Greene. “There’s nothing like…first of all, your first college game, you are extremely nervous. But your first NFL game, it’s just a different level. I told myself, go out there, run the right route, run as fast as you possibly can and if the ball comes your way, it comes your way. If not, clear it out for somebody else.”
A strong support system is critical for a long, trying journey. Greene may control his destiny, but he’s not alone. His support system is solid as a rock as he is backed by his family and former college teammates. Greene eliminated many distractions and limited his contacts. Yet, he continues to encourage and be encouraged by those who are inspired by his journey.
“I have a lot of support. I talk to my family…I don’t talk to them too much when I’m in training camp because I want to stay as focus as I can,” said Greene. “I stay away from the phone. But every time I talk to them and my old teammates in college who are still there at USC and others on different teams (in the NFL) right now, they give me a lot of support.
“Guys tell me all the time, ‘Kevin, for a guy who went through what you went through at USC and this whole undrafted thing, we are extremely proud of you.’ So, I’m just trying my best to reciprocate and prove to them and prove to myself that I belong somewhere here in the league,” he added.
Greene is a man of great faith and he knows that having a successful NFL career is a part of his destiny.
Whether if the NFL Regional Combine helped Greene get noticed or not, the Shield implemented workouts through their Regional Combine to assist countless players like Greene.
As a result of a rooted college program in USC, the league’s initiative by use of the Regional Combine and Greene’s determination, he is continuing his journey. As the NFL preseason continues, Greene will earn more playing time. Clearly, Greene can focus on what he can control and use his experience at USC as encouragement knowing that the changes were for a reason.
Greene is in his season now, and his journey is not all for him as many are watching – his family, friends, teammates and the unknown who will venture through the NFL Regional Combine process.
“It’s (The NFL Regional Combine) great. It’s just (pause), don’t give up on your dream,” said Greene, humbly. “As soon as you walk through those doors at the Regional Combine, you are being evaluated and God is the only one Who’s going to tell you when it’s time to stop playing.
“So, go out there and give it your all and football may be your calling, it may not be your calling, but it’s nobody else job to tell you to hang your shoes up early.”
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