No. 126: Khaseem Greene, No. 20, Rutgers, Linebacker
Greene is a safety who has converted to the weak-side linebacker position and been a revelation for the Scarlet Knights. He led the team in tackles a season ago and really was the heart of the Rutgers defense. After a devastating injury in the Pinstripe Bowl, Khaseem Greene is back for his senior year at Rutgers and is looking to build upon his success from a season ago.
Speed, and a lot of it. The rising senior moved over from safety, and the speed he brought to the Rutgers front seven had a tremendous affect. He was the guy chasing down ball carriers from the weak side through the wash. He played a true Will linebacker in his ability to track plays away from him and get to the ball-carrier. In coverage, he's also a plus.
That career as a safety helps him cover his short zones well. While he did not have any interceptions, he was a reliable pass defender.
In looking at Greene, the biggest plus is a tremendous surprise for a converted safety: his tackles for loss. He finished 2011 with 14 tackles for loss, good for second on the team and ninth in the Big East. That is not something you generally see out of converted safeties. Normally, playing downhill and behind the line of scrimmage is where safeties moved into the box tend to suffer; Greene excels in this environment.
When a player exceeds all expectations after a serious position change, there is not much negative to say about his game. With that said, the biggest obstacle for Greene to overcome will be his injury. The gruesome ankle injury is slowly healing after postseason surgery, but it kept him off the field in the spring, and he will have to work to get back into playing shape over the summer. That's a tough task for a young man who will only be participating in unsupervised team activities, no coaches allowed to observe.
Greene should come back healthy. Thanks to fall camp, the senior should be ready to rock and roll for the Scarlet Knights' opener against Tulane. Expect Khaseem Greene to be in the running to repeat as the Big East's defensive player of the year; this time, he likely won't share the honor with another player.
At the linebacker position, Greene will have his work cut out for him, but the way he tracks the ball and makes big plays will also put him in the running to be an All-American. If he can turn up his tackles for loss, his senior season could also make him a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award, among others.
Rutgers, as a team, needs Greene to be full strength and play well if they want to grab the Big East Championship and BCS Bowl bid that has eluded them repeatedly.