Rocky Mount High football coach Jason Battle waisn’t trying to undersell his star player, Sherrod Greene. That’s something South Carolina fans should be excited about.
“I think he is a freakish athlete,” Battle said of the Gamecocks signee. “He’s 6-foot-1, about 225. I think he could play linebacker, he could play inside, outside and I think he could play safety. He could probably play a strong safety as well as, if that didn’t work out, I honestly believe he can play running back at the next level. He’s that kind of athlete.”
The soft-spoken Greene has been an intriguing part of South Carolina’s 2017 class since he committed in July. His commitment survived an Alabama offer late in the summer, and he’ll join a position group that saw a pair of key faces graduate.
When Greene came to campus for his official visit weeks before Signing Day, the message from coach Will Muschamp was clear.
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“Toward the end, when we were about to leave, he invited us into his office,” Greene said. “He just talked about how great of a fit I would be for the team and how excited we are for this upcoming season. That we’re going to have some stumbling blocks because we’re young. But we’ll get used to it after a while.”
Greene picked up Power 5 interest before his junior season. He began his career as a running back and shifted to defense.
His first full season on that side, he led the Gryphons to a 14-2 record and a state title, piling up big numbers (154 tackles) along the way. A year later, despite missing four games because of an injury, he collected another 96 tackles, 16 in a low-scoring state championship loss. He chipped in on offense in the postseason, running for 194 yards and scoring the final touchdown in a state semifinal overtime victory.
Battle said a key moment in South Carolina’s pursuit came as coach and player were driving back from a visit to Tuscaloosa. Greene wanted to drop in on the Gamecocks staff. He liked linebackers coach Coleman Hutzler, but on that visit, he truly took to Muschamp.
That, and his personality helped stave off the Tide, in-state schools and anyone else.
“He’s not a kid that likes a whole lot of attention,” Battle said. “He appreciated all the offers, but he’s very low key.”
Greene joins a linebacker group that loses top players T.J. Holloman and Jonathan Walton. A few younger players got snaps last season and former All-SEC player Skai Moore is expected to return after being sidelined for a year, but there’s opportunities to play. Bryson Allen-Williams is the only linebacker who had significant playing time in 2016 who’s expected to return.
Greene said he was hopeful he’d be able to rotate in some or get special teams work. The coaches told him he could see time on the inside or outside. He said they see him bringing a skillset that fits the position.
“Just being able to make plays in open space,” Greene said. “Being able to read my keys on the defensive side of the ball and how fast I can get to the ball and how I can hit.”
Battle said the biggest step his former player will have to take is adapting to the complexity of college offenses. Greene has sideline-to-sideline range (his coach says he runs a 4.5-second 40), but in high school, he mostly faced power running teams. College will have him defending the pass in space.
But the coach has faith in Greene’s study habits, and beyond that, a baseline approach that will serve him well.
“Basically, he’s the type of kid that you put them somewhere and tell him he needs to make a play,” Battle said. “And if you can make a play right here, that’s the kind of kid he is, he’s gonna find a way to make a play.”