By perryn keys
So let’s say you’re a promising young wide receiver with plenty of smarts, a unique personality and enough speed to leave most cornerbacks choking on your fumes.
And let’s say that because you’re the son of Darrell Green, an NFL legend, you’ve got dozens more contacts than the average college kid. Maybe hundreds. And let’s say that after three seasons of college football and a coaching change at your school, the University of Virginia, you’re looking to transfer.
And for good measure, let’s also mention that Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach Monte Coleman is a longtime family friend - your sister’s godfather, a man whom you often call “Uncle Monte.”
Easy call, right? You’re as good as delivered, headed for the plains of southern Arkansas. Right?
If you’re Jared Green, evidently not.
A wide receiver looking for a big chance for big stats in his senior year, Green opted instead for Stump Mitchell and Southern University.
It was the right choice for him, he said. And despite a slow start, Southern is still the right place.
So when the Jaguars (2-4, 2-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference) face the Golden Lions (3-3, 2-2) at 6 p.m. Saturday, Green will go against a team whose coach he considers family.
Not exactly your ordinary SWAC matchup.
“It’s going to definitely be weird. ... It’s going to be different,” Green said. “But inside the white lines, it’s going to be the same game. I know it’s going to be bittersweet for both sides. But at the same time, I’m trying to get a win.”
That’s something Southern certainly needs. The Jaguars are tied with UAPB for second place in the Western Division, but they’ve dropped three of their past four games - each defeat coming by fewer than six points.
It’s been a scenario as unfortunate as it is wild. Similar, in a sense, to how Green went from Charlottesville, Va., to Baton Rouge.
His has not been the run-of-the-mill life. After all, how many kids get to present their fathers at their Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony? That’s what Green did for his father, the legendary former Washington Redskins cornerback who spent 20 years in the NFL.
At first, Darrell Green didn’t even allow his son to play football. Jared once compared the move to that of a cop who doesn’t want his son to see what he’s seen in the field.
Jared Green was a basketball player until he kept nagging Darrell to give in.
He got a scholarship offer from UVA, where, in three seasons, Green had 35 catches for 363 yards and two touchdowns.
He loved his former coach, Al Groh, who got fired after the 2009 season. He didn’t feel as comfortable under Groh’s successor, Mike London.
Green had already earned his degree in anthropology (hardly the stereotypical jock, he loves to write and travel, and anthropology - the study of human life and society - offered a way to do both).
He figured it was time to move on - and when Coleman learned of Green’s plans to transfer, he made his pitch. The UAPB coach figured to have a really good shot.
Coleman was a linebacker for the Redskins from 1979-94, winning three Super Bowls alongside Darrell Green. They grew close. Coleman, in fact, is godfather to Jared Green’s sister, Jerrell, and the kids often refer to him as “Uncle Monte.”
Asked this week how Jared Green slipped away, Coleman only chuckled.
“I have no insight on how that happened, even today,” he said.
How did it happen, then? To hear Green explain it, he wanted to play in a pass-first offense - and Mitchell, himself a former NFL player in the 1980s, wanted to throw the ball around this season.
“Here, I’m just on a business trip,” Green said. “Virginia’s my home. But I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do here. I’ve got to finish this season strong.”
Stronger, he hopes, than it’s been so far.
Coming out of Virginia, the book on Green went something like this: great skills, great moves, average hands. In six games at Southern, Green has only six catches for 88 yards.
“We’ve had some plays called for him, and it just hasn’t gone his way, unfortunately,” Mitchell said. “Some are Jared’s fault, some are the quarterback’s fault. Some are my fault. We’ve all had fault in him not getting as many balls as he really should’ve had.”
Still, Green might be coming around. This week, he and two teammates, receiver LaQuinton Evans and linebacker Jamie Payton, were invited to play Dec. 18 in the HBCU Bowl, a showcase for draft-eligible seniors.
Last week, at home against Prairie View, during a 17-play, 98-yard drive, quarterback Dray Joseph fired high and deep to Green along the right sideline - a pass that looked like it had no chance. Green made a leaping one-handed grab and got a foot in bounds, giving Southern an 18-yard gain and a first down.
The hands were just fine.
“That’s the type of guy he can be,” Mitchell said. “He just had not been in that position when he was at Virginia. Then, he caught on a little slow here. But we have five games left, and I’m excited about him. I’m excited about him. And I know he’s going to be excited to go and play against coach Coleman.”
After all, there’s nothing like an old family rivalry.