In mid-October, Khaseem Greene earned the Chuck Bednarik, Walter Camp Football Foundation and Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week honors after a resounding performance against Syracuse when he recorded three forced fumbles, 14 tackles, 1.5 sacks and an interception.
Weeks later, the Rutgers senior linebacker registered a career-high 22 tackles in a 28-7 victory over Army. But numbers alone don't quantify the impact Greene has had on the Scarlet Knights' program.
Patterning his game after Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis, Greene served as the unquestioned leader of the Rutgers defense with his fiery pre-game speeches, uncanny ability to be around the ball and his dogged determination to lead his team to victory.
“Khaseem continues to perform at an elite level,” said Rutgers head football coach Kyle Flood after Greene received the Bednarik Player of the Week honors. “He has bought into the team concept of our defense and the results have shown on the field.”
Since moving from free safety to weakside linebacker before the 2011 season, Greene has recorded 256 tackles -- 29 of which have resulted in negative yardage. Greene is currently fifth in Rutgers school history in career tackles with 376. If the 6-foot-1, 230-pound linebacker finishes with 14 tackles against Virginia Tech in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28, he will end his career with the third-most tackles of any Scarlet Knights player. In the first quarter of a 10-3 win over Cincinnati on Nov. 17, Greene sent Bearcats RB George Winn flying backwards with a crushing, perfectly timed shoulder tackle.
Greene's greatest strength may be his versatility. On one play he can rush up the middle and force a fumble as he did against Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib in the 23-15 victory. On the next, he can show a blitz and then expertly drop into coverage to pick off a pass as he also exhibited against the Orange. It might be why Greene is the fifth-ranked outside linebacker in CBSSports.com's latest NFL Draft rankings and the highest of any player in the conference.
During the draft process, NFL scouts may be enamored with Greene's maturity and his ability to blend in with his future teammates. Few players in FBS have grown as much as the Scarlet Knights linebacker over the past five years.
“This place took me in from a baby when I walked in as a freshman and helped me grow into a man,” Greene said. “The relationships I built here with the players, coaches and fans -- you never expect to get something like that out of a college program.”
Flood feels that Greene is just scratching the surface of his potential, as he continues to gain comfort in his transition to linebacker.
“I really believe he's at the beginning stages of his learning curve,” Flood said. “The more he plays linebacker, the better he's going to get. I don't think he's anywhere near where he's going to be a couple of years from now.”
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