In high school, Marquis Green was often the fastest player on the football field. He had the speed to take a handoff and scoot around the edge of the defense for big gains.
Since the 5-foot-7, 175-pound junior running back has been at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, playing against better defenses with well-positioned and quick defenders, that edge has been harder to reach.
"That was the big change," the Palmetto, Fla., native said Tuesday. "My coach [Dave Marino] in high school told me, 'Guys are going to be faster and bigger, and you should expect that.' I know I won't be able to outrun everyone, and I just have to find ways with my size to make me productive."
In UTC's 28-24 win against The Citadel last Saturday, when Green was thrust into the lead back role after starter Keon Williams suffered an ankle injury, the powerfully built small ball carrier showed off a different technique for getting to the edge.
On multiple runs, Green stymied an advancing defender with a well-placed stiff-arm. He wasn't quite Earl Campbell, but the move was effective.
"It actually was just instinct," said Green, who had 85 yards on 16 carries. "I felt that if a defender's coming at me and I'm running to the sideline, I need more room to keep going toward the sideline.
"I'm just using whatever I can. I couldn't really give him a juke at that point, so I just had to use the stiff-arm."
Green was able to use a juke on perhaps his most important run of the game. With the Mocs facing a first down at their 21-yard line, while trailing 24-21 with 3:42 to play, Green cut right after the handoff and made an in-position safety miss. He gained 8 yards on the play and got out of bounds.
"Little things like that make a big difference," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said. "The dude was standing right there, and he made him miss."
As a true freshman in 2011, Green led the Mocs in rushing with 530 yards. He also had 17 catches for 89 yards. Last season, Green was at times lost in the shuffle as UTC transitioned to the spread and relied heavily on quarterback Jacob Huesman and wideout/quarterback Terrell Robinson.
Green finished with 126 rushing yards on 24 carries and 15 catches for 137 yards in 2012. Already this season, he has rushed for 191 yards on 45 attempts, and he is tied with Robinson for a team-high 20 catches. Green's 203 receiving yards lead the Mocs.
"I think coming into the season, and even as we recruited him, we thought he would be that kind of guy that we'd use like we have this season, kind of a dual-threat guy that we can put in a lot of different positions," Coach Huesman said. "I was awful proud of Marquis [last Saturday] because now he had to line up next to the quarterback and take the ball and keep our running game going.
"He made some people miss, he broke some tackles, and that's what you need your running back to do. He didn't do that a whole lot last year, and to come into this game and Keon goes down on the first kick return and for him to have that kind of game was huge for us, no question about it."
The Mocs might need a similar performance from Green this week at Appalachian State (2-6, 2-3). Williams did not practice Tuesday, and he is questionable for Saturday.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/MocsBeat.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...