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Inside Seth Green’s journey from top QB recruit to P.J. Fleck’s secret weapon

September 7, 2018

Nobody seemed more excited for Seth Green’s first career touchdown than P.J. Fleck. The Gophers coach went airborne as Green neared the sideline and chest-bumped his secret weapon after the go-ahead score in last week’s season-opening victory.

Neither Fleck nor Green knew what to expect about his future when they met earlier this year. Several options were discussed. Switch positions away from quarterback? Take on a receiving role? Transfer?

“It was definitely a tougher conversation,” Green said this week.

The Woodbury native had been training to be a signal-caller since grade school. Once a four-star QB recruit of Oregon, Green left East Ridge after his junior season to hone his skills at a prominent Texas high school. Being a big-time college quarterback was once the only option.

Less than three years later, Green was in Gophers spring practice, facing another season buried on the quarterback depth chart as a redshirt sophomore and learning about a new path forward. Fleck said he would have “totally” understood if Green wanted to transfer then, after hearing he was behind both true freshman Zack Annexstad and redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan.

Instead, Green’s strong religious beliefs and support system took over.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to see him take his Christian value and putting it into action,” said Green’s father, Bryan. “We reached out to our pastor and to some of our Christian friends. We talked it through. We prayed and we prayed on it, and we trusted in what the Lord has in store for him.”

It likely felt like answered prayers for the Green family last Thursday night, when Green muscled his way into the end zone twice out of the Wildcat formation in the 48-10 victory over New Mexico State.

Green’s position switch gives an inexperienced receiving corps another playmaker, and takes some pressure off Annexstad. Fleck compared the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Green’s versatility to a Swiss Army Knife.

“He’s got a lot of different tools for us to be able to use,” Fleck said. “We just have to continue to be creative ... and be able to create opportunities for him to be able to show what he can do and help out football team.”

Change, the one constant

Some of Green’s supporters still think he can be a great collegiate quarterback, if ever given the chance. But Green’s father taught all three of his sons to be team players, and to be ready for new opportunities.

“It was something my dad instilled in me and my brothers,” Green said. “If you always stay prepared and keep on your grind, then when it’s your time you’re going to shine.”

Bryan Green, who was a Gophers running back in the early 1990s, has 22 years of experience in the United States Army National Guard and is a lieutenant colonel in the medical services corps. As a medical evacuation pilot he flew over 500 hours, including in Iraq.

Bryan is from Alabama, but being in Minnesota near his wife Teresa’s family helped while he was deployed. The Woodbury and Lake Elmo communities help raise Seth from elementary school until his first three years of high school.

“We embraced that family while he was deployed,” said former Lake Elmo principal Andy Fields, now the principal at Oak-Land Middle School. “Watching three young boys say goodnight to their dad while he was overseas fighting for our country was about the greatest honor I could have as a principal.”

Another of Fields’ favorite memories: Bryan landing a helicopter on a school field and giving students a chance to climb aboard.

Green’s father relocated the family three years ago to Texas after accepting a job promotion. The Green brothers excelled while training with Kevin Murray, the father of Allen High School’s former Gatorade player of the year, Kyler Murray, now the quarterback at Oklahoma. Blaine and Bryson, Seth’s twin brothers, are sophomore receivers at Allen with offers from Auburn, Baylor, Kansas, Minnesota and Mississippi.

Not long after arriving in Texas, Green decommmited from the Ducks. Scott Frost had left his job as Oregon’s offensive coordinator to take the head job at Central Florida. Green went on to lead Allen to the state title game before signing with the Gophers under then-coach Tracy Claeys.

Some buzz accompanied Green on his return to Minnesota as he joined a program long in need of quarterback talent, but he redshirted as a freshman in 2016 and was caught up in the scandal that rocked the program. Green was among 10 players suspended for alleged involvement in a sexual assault case that was investigated by the U. Green was cleared of any wrongdoing, but the drawn-out process had him leaning heavily on family, friends and faith.

“It definitely got me through it,” Green said of his faith. “One thing I definitely love about being faith-based is it’s not just about reading the scripture and saying these words. You get to see it every day with the people God put in your life or the situations.”

Green was a powerful runner in the season opener. Using the 20-some extra pounds he added while transitioning away from quarterback, Green plowed through the New Mexico State defense for goal-line scores. We’ll see what the Gophers draw up next for Green. He put in extra work in fall camp, routinely pulling off diving catches, so maybe the new wide receiver will get to show off his hands Saturday against Fresno State.

Whatever comes next for Green, this journey has led him to stay close to his faith. Before taking flight to celebrate with Fleck on his first touchdown, he pointed to the sky to give thanks.

“Through the ups and downs,” he said, “You just keep your head up, keep working, keep pushing, keep praying.”

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