A Good Start, A Perfect Script

Sept. 3, 2005

True freshman Shonn Greene wasn’t expecting to lead the Hawkeyes in rushing when he left his redshirt on the sideline during Iowa’s 56-0 win over Ball State at Kinnick Saturday.

But that’s what he did.

Greene became the first true freshman in 18 years to rush for more than 100 yards, with a game-high 18 carries for 116 yards in the season opener. Tony Stewart performed the same task in 1987.

Not bad for a player who was just a name on a roster before Head Coach Kirk Ferentz mentioned he’d be in the mix at running back less than a week ago.

“Every game I prepare because you never know what’s going to happen, and I was fortunate to get in and do what I could do,” he said. “I still have a lot to learn.”

If that is true, it didn’t look that way.

The Hawkeyes’ second-largest running back listed at 210 pounds – true freshman Kalvin Bailey is listed at 240 pounds – broke free for a 32-yard run in the game’s definitive second-quarter which helped set up a 1-yard Sam Brownlee touchdown that gave the Hawkeyes a 49-0 halftime lead.

Greene got his own chance to cross the end zone in the fourth quarter with a 6-yard touchdown run that was Iowa’s only score in the second half.

“I don’t know if we could have scripted that any better,” Ferentz said of Greene’s debut. “It’s really been a great opportunity for him. He’s been improving at every opportunity, and he came on strong after the Aug. 20 scrimmage.”

Greene, who had been a four-star recruit out of Winslow Township High School in Sicklerville, N.J., had been originally recruited for the 2004 class, but he took what was to be his first year at Iowa at the Milford (CT) Academy.

Greene said that experience is helping him now.

“It gives me a little head start, but I still have a lot to learn,” he said. “I’m 20 years old, but at least I got here.”

Ferentz said that aside from a few miscues, Greene’s three quarters of play were “great.”

“He put the ball on the ground that one time, which you can’t have, but overall I thought he did a great job,” the coach said. “He’s a pretty strong guy out there, and a pretty strong runner.”

Greene said that he put on 25 pounds at the Milford Academy. Leaving high school, Greene was listed as 5 foot 11 and 190 pounds.

“Milford helped me out a lot, for the speed of the college game and stuff like that,” he said.

The new running back credited the performance of the offensive line for his success.

“I don’t know if we could have scripted that any better. It’s really been a great opportunity for him. He’s been improving at every opportunity.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz on Shonn Greene

“I didn’t even know I had a 100,” Greene said. “I think it’s pretty much the offensive line that got into the zone because they got into their blocks down the field and they did a good job.”

The atmosphere of a packed Kinnick Stadium also helped.

“I love it,” he said. “All the fans and the people are great. I just love it.”

Five true freshmen, including Greene, got their first taste of Kinnick Saturday.

Tight end Tony Moeaki had three catches for 28 yards including a 16-yarder, defensive linemen Alex Kanellis and Ryan Bain got into the mix, as did offensive lineman Dace Richardson.

Quarterback Drew Tate said the younger players performed well.

“I thought they did a good job, especially on the offense,” said the one-time true freshman player. “It’s a lot different, it really is, but it depends on how you carry yourself and how you handle it. I’m not inside their minds, so I don’t know how they’re handling it, but it was fine and I had a good time playing my first year.”

Ferentz agreed with his quarterback.

“It seemed like all the first-year guys looked like they were in the right place and felt at home out there,” he said. “It’s good to get that first-game anxiety out of them. And every player goes through it. It’s a great experience for those guys.”

Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com