Saturday, April 18, 2009

Q&A: Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa

Shonn Greene, former Iowa running back, was interviewed on The All Access Football Friday on April 10 2009 show by Daniel Mogollon, Ralph Mancini and Rodney Towe.

The Draft is now 15 days away. Have you done any private workouts and if so, for whom?

I was worked out by the Jets. I went out to San Diego and then to Arizona with the Cardinals, so I’ve been here and there.

We just had Ian Johnson on, talking about the Combine process and the whole drafting process. What is your take on this process?

I think it is huge for those NFL guys to determine how we perform under pressure in a situation where we are uncomfortable, not knowing the surroundings and things like that. I think it measures that and teams like to see how you’re going to perform under pressure.

How stressful is it stressful?

It can be if you let it, but I think if you focus on doing what you need to do and just having fun with the guys you’re around it is mush easier on you as opposed to worrying about running fast and things like that. You want to be focused but then again, you want to be relaxed and be yourself.

If we went back a year ago from today and we were talking to you as you were in spring practice and we told you in a year you would be getting ready for the NFL Draft, would you be surprised, or did you think this was a possibility, this soon?

I would be surprised. I don’t doubt myself. I know what I am capable of and I know the things that I could do but the way (how fast) things have happened is surprising to me.

Before my buddy Ralph comes in with a question I wanted to mention that he’s a Penn State fan. Talk about that big win you guys had and how great it was to knock off that undefeated team in the Big Ten.

[Ralph] “Oh no, come on” (laughs all around)

Oh man, that was a great feeling right there. You couldn’t ask for anything better in football. You have a top-ranked team, I believe they were ranked third in the nation at that time. It was a home game, it was cold, it was flurrying, snowing, and it was just a great football atmosphere. Our fans were into it and it was a great game. Both teams competed very well, we got after each other and the outcome, fortunately, went in our favor, so it was a good experience.

What was the atmosphere like after that win? Was everybody in Ames (IA) crazy for the whole week?

It was crazy, man. After the win, the fans came onto the field and I was getting hit over the top of the head by so many different people. I couldn’t see where my teammates were. It was just crazy.

I heard that your kicker could probably run for mayor and win the election if he decided to.

He probably could. That was probably the play of the year as far as Iowa is concerned. Props out to him (the kicker), he did a helluva job with all that pressure on him and still making the kick.

[Ralph] “You had enough, Dan? Have you got it all out of your system?” (laughs)

Your former coach, Kirk Ferentz, indicated that your attitude and determination are two things that make you a special player. Can you elaborate on that? What type of attitude do you bring to the table?

I think just being dedicated and hard working, having goals and things in life you want to achieve and to do those things, you have to be dedicated to what you’re doing. You have to want to do what you need to do. You have to have the mindset of not letting anything bother you. You have push through everything that comes up and I think that’s what I put in, as far as my attitude. Whatever comes my way, I’m going to handle it and get to where I want to go.

You took a long, winding journey to where you are today. As a matter of fact, for the people who don’t know this, you were ruled academically ineligible to play back in 2007 and you weren’t allowed to play football, basically. That must have been tough on you. How did you fill that void during 2007, when you couldn’t go out and play?

That was a big moment in my life. Football is everything to me and when that was taken away from me, I went to community college to get my grades up. I worked at a furniture store to pay rent and then to pay for my classes. I just worked to get my grades up so I could get back to Iowa and get back on the team. I think that whole year was a big turnaround for me and it matured me much more as a man.

Whenever I’ve watched you play, the thing that I really admire about you is you have excellent vision on the field and that allows you to hit those cutback lanes that you’re very good at. Walk us through what you’re thinking and what you’re looking for when the quarterback hands you the football. Does everything sort of slow down for you or do you just act on instinct?

I think it’s a little of both. Being a running back, I think everyone acts on instinct. In the Iowa offense we run a lot of zone plays, so we are basically taking our zone reads and looking for the opening and we’re following our offensive line and we’re cutting off of them. Some linebackers tend to overrun the play and that’s where you get the cutbacks. Having vision is a key and I think that’s a great ability for me and separates me from a lot of backs this year.

When you first got to Iowa your former coach Kirk Ferentz said that you would be an awesome linebacker, but back then you also had guys like Chad Greenway and Jonathan Babineaux playing the position. Do you think you really could have been a linebacker or played another position on defense?

I think so, but I’m not going to put my all out into that because I think I was running back at heart. That being said, I was a football player too so I think just being able to compete and get on the field I was going to do whatever. I liked the contact. That’s what linebackers do. They hit people and there’s a lot of contact. I think I could have made the transition but fortunately I stuck at running back and it turned out beautifully.

We talked about that winding road and it began back in New Jersey, where we are, in the northeast. We’ve had several guys from Jersey on. The Garden State looks like it is going to be represented well in the upcoming Draft, particularly at the running back position. Some of the guys you will be competing against for draft positioning are Knowshon Moreno and Donald Brown. Do you know any of those guys or any other Jersey guys, like B.J. Raji, who are going to be high picks in this Draft?

I didn’t know any of them leading up to this point, but at the Combine I met a couple of those guys and talked to them. I know a couple of them. Me and Knowshon talked a lot because he was at the College Football Awards and I was there and then the Doak Walker (Award) thing, so I know him pretty well. I saw Donald on a visit and we talked a little bit. I didn’t know them beforehand.

So you guys kind of gravitated towards each other at these different events, coming from the same part of the country?

Yes, absolutely. I think those kind of events brought us together. At first I didn’t know Knowshon or Donald were from Jersey. When those events started coming around and you hear where they’re from, you’re like “Wow, we’re all from Jersey!”

I believe you are the only running back to run for at least 100 yards in all of his games. What happened this year? Was it just that you got an opportunity to play?

I think that is the main thing. I got an opportunity to play along with a great offensive line here at Iowa. Those guys busted their chops and blocked their behinds off for me and they did a good job the whole season. That’s why I was able to get 100 yards in every game along with getting the opportunity to show what I could do. This past year was the first year I got to show what I could do on a starting basis every game.

Time for three-and-out: First down: Your favorite basketball player of all time?

Kobe Bryant.

Second down: Your favorite baseball player? It is baseball season...

That’s a really tough one because I don’t watch baseball like that. I have to go with Mike Schmidt.

Whoa, Mike Schmidt, old school. Third down: If you were in “Dancing with the Stars” or “American Idol” which competition would you do better in?

Probably “Dancing with the Stars”.

You've got some moves? Donald Brown said the same thing. I guess you Jersey guys have some moves, huh?

Yeah, you know, I like to keep it "nice and smooth”. (laughs all around)

Photo Credit: College Press Box (Iowa)