Journey is more than just a great band in the Seventies. It's one of those perfect sports metaphor words for what some athletes go through to get from point A to point B.
Take Shonn Greene.
"I went to the University of Iowa in '05 and played there for two years," said Greene, the first pick of Round 3 by the Jets in the second day of the NFL draft today. "Then at the end of my sophomore year, I kind of fell off gradewise. I wasn't taking care of my responsibilities."
Greene wound up getting his grades back up at football-less Kirkwood Community College in Iowa City. Then after returning to the Hawkeyes last season, he started out as the sixth tailback on coach Kirk Ferentz's roster.
"It was quite a ride," he said of that season that began low on the depth chart and finished on a very high note. "I was just working hard day in and day out, staying after practice, working on things, getting my football back in me.
"It was a pretty long journey, but I made it here and I'm proud."
Greene didn't stop believing, and neither did the Jets. They liked his combination of great vision and thumping style, his school record 1,850 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in '08, his consensus All-America status.
And when Mike Tannenbaum and his staff restacked their draft board after Round 2 on Saturday night, they realized one thing.
"It was Shonn and then it was a pretty precipitous jump from there," said Tannenbaum, the Jets' GM. "It was the gulf between him and the rest of the guys that made it a pretty easy decision."
The decision in question was whether or not to trade up a second time after sending two picks and three players to Cleveland to leap to No. 5 for QB Mark Sanchez on day one. No problem: The Detroit Lions, holders of the first pick of day two, wanted picks, so the Jets sent them three (in Rounds 4, 5 and 7), shot to the top of the list and snapped up Greene.
Head coach Rex Ryan dismissed the knock on Greene, a lack of breakaway speed, at the Jets' draft wrap-up news conference late this afternoon.
"His vision is the thing that jumped at you," Ryan said. "And he's a big man, close to 230 pounds. That's what it takes in this league. He can run through arm tackles and he can see the hole and he hits it. He's a downhill runner."
Greene, in fact, picks up so much speed running downhill at times that Ferentz was quoted as saying: "He'd be an awesome linebacker. Gosh, would he be good."
"The game of football is a physical sport. That's why I enjoy it so much," he said. "I love contact. It's violent, it's quick, it's fast. That's just the nature of my game, how I like to play the game."
Blitz pickup will be a teaching point for coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and RBs coach Anthony Lynn, but as Ryan said, "We think he's got the temperament and everything else where he can be good at pass protection."
Rex's bottom line: "I think the young man's going to be a tremendous player for us, I really do."
And Greene's analysis about being a Jet and joining a Pro Bowl backfield of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington: "I'm just as excited as can be."
Sounds like Shonn Greene and Gang Green are welcoming each other with open arms.
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