The Jeff Greene Story

By Kyle Rowland on May 15, 2013 at 9:30a
Jeff Greene will walk on at Ohio State

In the spring of 2011, after months of deliberating, wide receiver Jeff Greene committed to nearby Georgia Tech. It was the culmination of years of hard work and dreams of playing big-time college football.

But a fork in the road appeared after two frustrating years in the Yellow Jackets’ run-first-and-often offense. Greene played in 12 games as a freshman and led Georgia Tech in receiving his sophomore year, finishing with 18 catches for 284 yards and two touchdowns.

Following the regular season, Greene and the coaching staff came to a mutual decision to part ways. The staff still put in its final two cents, contributing Greene’s departure to “poor effort and attitude.” Greene’s high school coach, Chad Phillips, also displayed disappointment in his former player, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,  “It’s a crying shame. The (coaches) bent over backwards to help him. He was on his way to getting a college degree from Georgia Institute of Technology. It’s a shame he had to be a little selfish.”

Greene told Eleven Warriors that he knew Georgia Tech’s style, but was assured it would adapt during his career.

“Everyone said things were going to change,” he said. “Some things they showed me when I was being recruited, some things they didn’t. I was the leading receiver with 18 catches, it was frustrating at times. I just felt like it wasn’t for me.”

It’s understandable why a receiver would grow tired of the offensive philosophy at Georgia Tech, though Stephen Hill neared 1,000 yards two years ago. Still, consistent production is hard to come by. So Greene found himself right where he was two years priors – being recruited. 

His dad, Jeff Sr., is a personal trainer in Dayton, making Ohio an attractive landing spot. Greene was offered a scholarship from Cincinnati out of high school, and the Bearcats came calling again when they learned Greene was looking to transfer.

“I was just trying to get to Ohio.”

“It was basically like being recruited all over again,” said Greene, who revealed Arkansas, South Florida and Division II Valdosta State were among the programs coveting his services. “I talked to a lot of schools that offered me scholarships. My main thing was to come up to Ohio where I can train with my dad and I could be close to him, and he can come watch my games. I was just trying to get to Ohio.”

And when it comes to college football in the Buckeye State it is hard to ignore Ohio State. Greene didn’t shy away from the Buckeyes. He talked to Urban Meyer and learned that the receivers were a perceived weakness last year and that two starters for the upcoming season are seniors. The giant elephant in the room, however, was the NCAA sanctions that limit Ohio State to 82 scholarship players.

Currently, the Buckeyes are right on that number. That didn’t deter Greene, though. The goal was to end up in the best situation. As it turned out, that would be Ohio State. Conversations with Meyer, as well as offensive coordinator Tom Herman, wide receivers coach Zach Smith and director of football operations Greg Gillum, put Greene at ease. 

“I talked to Coach Meyer in the spring and he said they didn’t have scholarship because of the NCAA penalties, but he said he wanted me anyway,” Greene said. “He said he wanted me to walk-on. I wanted to get a scholarship, but I came to the decision that it was worth it to walk-on.

“(Meyer) said if I come in and do everything I’m supposed to be doing, going to class, staying on top of things and what not, earning a scholarship shouldn’t be hard.”

The desire to walk-on and persevere through hard work contrasts with Georgia Tech coaches thoughts. Instead, it paints the picture of a player that’s anything but selfish. Greene will enroll at Ohio State for the summer semester, which begins June 10. He will then be able to work out at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and begin a yearlong offseason project that centers on getting bigger, faster and stronger.

Greene is listed as 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, but he didn’t view his size as an asset at Georgia Tech. He actually felt out of place and even undersized when it came to strength.

“When I first came to Georgia Tech, I didn’t get redshirted, so I was thrown to the fire my freshman year,” Greene said. “I felt like I was ready, but I didn’t have the size and weight. I wanted to make that decision to take the next year off and get bigger, faster and stronger. Going from playing for two years to sitting out will be tough, but it’s the position I chose to be in.”

One glance at what Ohio State has to offer sheds light on that decision. There’s the rock star head coach, innovative offensive coordinator, tradition-rich program and facilities that are better than some NFL teams. The Buckeyes also count Cris Carter, Santonio Holmes, Michael Jenkins, David Boston and Terry Glenn among their receiver alumni.

“It was very exciting once I looked at their offense,” Greene said. “Coach Meyer even told me that the receivers need to improve and that the offense’s main goal is to improve at that position. Even though I have to sit out a year I can come in and help out, run the scout team and get bigger and faster so when it is my time I’ll be ready.”

“I went against great competition down at Tech, but it’s a whole new level coming from Tech to Ohio State.”

“I just hope to go out there (on the scout team) and go against great competition. I went against great competition down at Tech, but it’s a whole new level coming from Tech to Ohio State. I’ll be contending for a national championship and competing against bigger and stronger people up here. The competition is going to get me better, and I hope I can help out on the scout team and benefit the defensive guys.”

It’s Jenkins that draws comparisons to Greene due to his slender size and ability to outreach smaller defensive backs. Greene said getting to the ball at the highest point and using his big body as a weapon is what he does best when attempting to catch the ball. That same thing happened often from 2001-2003 in Columbus and other Big Ten locales. It added up to 2,746 receiving yards for Jenkins and 16 touchdowns – one more memorable than the others.

Excuse fans if they’re enthusiastic about Greene’s transfer. It’s been a decade since they had a wide receiver with his attributes. Sprinkle in Meyer, Herman and Braxton Miller and 2014 could be an air raid.

“I’m very excited. The fan base is phenomenal,” Greene said. “I’m coming up here as a walk-on and there are all kinds of articles about me. A lot of fans have reached out to me to let me know they’re glad I’m in the Buckeye family. I have to slow down and catch on. Football up here is a big deal. I’m just grasping on to it, but the fan base is excellent.”


Comments Show All Comments

Goalscorer9's picture

I am very excited to see what the future holds for this young man.  Noticed him while watching Georgia Tech play Virginia Tech last year and remember thinking "That kid has some tools, how does GT keep getting these athletic wide receivers to come play in the triple option offense?"

Glad he's a buckeye now! (and doesn't take up a scholly, to boot!)

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Great article Kyle.  Glad to have Greene in the Buckeye family.

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

Excited to see what this kid can do next year..especially with Brax360 having another year under his belt. O-H..

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

awarren84's picture

...IO! I won't leave u hangin!

"Anything less than flagrant is just playing grab ass!"

45has2's picture

Coach Mick will build you into a man of steel. Welcome to The Ohio State Buckeyes.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

brandonbauer87's picture

He's saying a the right things and seems to have the right attitude. I would really like to see him succeed, not only for the team, but also off the field. Tom Rinaldi is already putting a piece together. 

13THandSummit's picture

He does appear to have the right attitude. Having never met the guy or heard anything about him before he came to tOSU, I normally would be concerned about a kid who gives up on a team that he signed for. However, the fact that he is walking-on shows me that he is willing to work and wasn't just being selfish. Hard to say he took the easy way out when he has to sit out a year and show that he can do what he has to in the classroom before he gets another scholarship.

Buckeyeneer's picture

Fantastic get! I am happy that our scout O will have a guy who was good enough to start in a major conference. That will pay dividends to our 1st team D, getting to practice against that level of competition.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

OldColumbusTown's picture

I love the fact he'll have an entire year to build a rapport with Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett on the scout team.  He may or may not have a year with Braxton at QB in 2014, but he'll more than likely be playing his senior season with Jones or Barrett under center.

cinserious's picture

Combine a 2014 air-raid with multi headed destructon coming out of the backfield and its going to be TD on 90% of our drives. I'm just wondering where the pt will come from for Jeff Green in '14 as we will still have Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, Corey Smith, Micheal Thomas, and some of the atheletes catching balls from several positions.
Anybody know what receiver position Green will play and how many years of eligibility he will have? Also, if he pays his own way and walks-on this yr, why does he have to sit out '13?

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

OldColumbusTown's picture

No matter the scholarship/non-scholarship situation, if you transfer from one FBS school to another, you have to sit out one year.  This of course excludes the graduate rule, as well as the rarely allowed rule that allows someone to transfer and play immediately due to a family situation.

cinserious's picture

Thanks for clarifying.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

whobdis's picture

I have to admit..when reading the initial story..the statements about his work ethic made me wonder how well he'd fit in. But it doesn't really sync with he says he's willing to do. Usually kids like this will go to a smaller school so they can play right away..probably be the star on that team..and make his way into the NFL. That certainly be easier than enrolling here and working on the scout team for a year. Not exactly what I would expect from someone 'lazy'.

13THandSummit's picture

Made a reply similar to this in regards to an earlier comment before I read your post. I agree 100% (can't upvote yet).

USMC11917's picture

One to get you on the way.

stevebelliseeya's picture

and was a long climb till 100 and i upvote and downvote with integrity because of that long climb...

"We are eternal. All this pain is an illusion." - Tool

bostonbuckeye's picture

You aren't kidding about the long climb.  6 away.  On a related note.  I can't express how much I want this guy to succeed.  Having to sit out a year without a scholarship and focus on grades doesn't sound like a lazy person to me.

awarren84's picture

I wish he'd mention the huge upgrade from wearing Russell brand* uni's to wearing Nike!
*Not Katy Perry's ex 

"Anything less than flagrant is just playing grab ass!"

tdible2132's picture

I'm excited to have this kid aboard. He's 6'4 and has shown he can make plays even in an offense like Georgia Tech's.  Hopefully he works his butt off and makes an impact in 2014!

AAStagg's picture

"Football up here is a big deal..."  You got that right, Jeff.  Now just revel in that -- go to class, keep your nose clean and enjoy the experience.

Keep calm.  It's only a game.

Hovenaut's picture

Butthurt much, GT?

Glad this kid is a Buckeye.

ColumbusBornAndRaised's picture


Needs to learn to stick the landing on the celebration but other than that he looks good to me!

rdubs's picture

Some high quality walk-ons it seems.  William Houston was another from this year's group.  He was ranked as a top 3 FB as I recall.

buckny's picture

OSU also has this pretty good strength guy to help Greene get stronger, what's his name....oh yeah, Marotti or something like that ;)

tussey's picture

It sounds like he is willing to work hard and he will have to in order to earn a scholarship. I can definitely understand why he might have gotten pegged as a player with poor work ethic. I mean I would find it hard to get motivated to get better if I was playing in an offense that was never going to get me the ball (WR in a triple option offense).

osubuck57's picture

Was shocked he agreed to walk on and earn a scholly for next season!!Love his attitude and potential play-making ability.Should be a very good asset to team and scout teams this year.can't wait to see him suit up next year.Welcome to Buckeye Nation!!


Buckin-J's picture

I just hope what his previous coaches said about him doesn't prove to be right.  I would hate to see someone with his talents go to waste.

Go Bucks or go home. 

ih8rolltyde's picture

Any time you can work in a "Holy Buckeye" link, I'll click it.
Goosebumps every time. Always shocked at how loud the place gets when Jenks hauls it in.
Welcome to the family, Jeff. Glad to have you aboard.

****igan smells like old water that hot dogs were boiled in.  FACT

tennbuckeye19's picture

Welcome to Buckeye Nation! Great to have Jeff on board. Can't wait to see him on the field in due time.

MN Buckeye's picture

Sometimes an athlete needs a fresh start, at any level.  Could be the system, the fit, he campus or football culture, whatever.  I really like his self-awareness of what he needs to do to get better.

Psychranger's picture

Congrats Jeff! I'm an OSU Grad from Atl and adopted Tech as my local college team to watch in person. I've seen you play and understand well how frustrating it must have been as a WR to have few pass plays called and even when they were, with all due respect, the throws were all too frequently off line. You did learn to have to block and be extremely physical which as a Buckeye you will use to your advantage. Tech just wasn't a good match and here's hoping that you'll enjoy your new family.