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Stephfon Green Is On The Clock

You have to believe he hears the clock ticking too.

Tick Tock.  Tick Tock.  Tick Tock.

Time moves fast when you’re a college student.  But maybe the more accurate way to put it is that time slips away.  After all, it doesn’t seem all that long ago that he was the young kid out of high school bounding out of the hallways of John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx and into the huddle in Holuba Hall, breaking off 40-yard runs like they were going out of style.

Tick Tock.  Tick Tock.  Tick Tock.

He still had to wait…until August 30, 2008, when he took the field as a redshirt freshman and averaged 8.9 yards on 10 carries, scoring two touchdowns.  Then he went back to the locker room and showed off that excitement...

I just wanted to help my team, you know, contribute in any way I can. I was itchin' to get in in the beginning, but then when they put me in, I made sure I didn't disappoint.

…and the first hints of leadership.

Right now, we're focused on Oregon State next week. Good win today, gonna celebrate tonight, stay out of trouble, keep each other out of trouble.

And even after sprinting and juking a hated rival on 80-yard screen pass, he still had to wait.

Tick Tock.  Tick Tock.  Tick Tock.

And then came the injuries.  And with that, the dwindling yards.  And after the 2009 campaign, where he dutifully played backup to one of the most productive running backs in Penn State’s illustrious history, he thought his time was finally coming.  2010 was going to be his year.  2010 was going to be the first of two big seasons as the starting tailback at a school known for them.

And then he found out the starter decided to stay.  And still, he showed patience and grace under pressure.

"I can’t control what happens," Green said. "I just try to prepare myself so if anything was to happen [to Royster], I could step in and play that starting role. I don’t have any animosity toward it, I’m not mad or anything like that. 

"We just have a real good running back sitting in the backfield this year. It’s good for our team." 

Tick Tock.  Tick Tock.  Tick Tock.

But a funny thing happened in 2010 – he became old news.  He became old news when a new young kid bounded out of the hallways of a Northeast high school and into Holuba Hall, breaking off 40-yard runs like they were going out of style.  Another season of dwindling carries and yards followed.  Now, that young kid is ready to lead the backfield, and the senior’s been caught in the squeeze.

Tick Tock.  Tick Tock.  Tick Tock.

Stephfon Green is the quintessential Penn State player.  He’s stayed out of trouble off the field and has, at varying points, been productive on it.  He knows the playbook and knows how to pass block.  He's been electric with the ball in his hands in space.  Even on the bench, he’s been a leader and the team’s emotional center.  He waited patiently behind Evan Royster, and 2011 was supposed to be his moment to shine.

Why can’t it?

Yesterday, SBNation posted some interesting statistics on tailback timesharing.  That led to a great discussion in the FanPosts where several of us extolled the intangibles of Stephfon Green.

I know we’re all enamored with Silas Redd and his ridiculous footwork.  I know he came complete with 5-stars and a handful of dreams.  But those leadership qualities and the enthusiasm Green has shown haven’t magically disappeared, and that 4.2 speed isn’t going anywhere.  So while the Penn State community may be ready for the Silas Redd Era to begin, I have to admit that a large part of me is cheering just a bit harder for Stephfon Green to turn in a Larry Johnson-esque senior year, with a moment as good as this one.

The Silas Redd Era is going to be a good one, but it can wait.  The Stephfon Green Era needs to begin and end first.