ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia’s coaching staff hasn’t minded recruiting the occasional shifty, undersized utility player through the years -- and it looks like that’s what it's getting in J.J. Green.
The 5-foot-8, 171-pound early enrollee won’t be the first player Mark Richt’s staff wants getting off the bus, but he fits the mold of the Mikey Hendersons, Rantavious Wootens and Carlton Thomases who wound up contributing offensively despite a lack of prototypical size.
That was certainly the case at Camden County (Ga.) High School, where Green became coach Jeff Herron’s very first four-year starter.
“I would say power if I had to say in one word [what stands out about Green],” Herron said. “He’s got a rare combination of speed and quickness and strength. I know he’s not a real big kid, but he is a powerful kid.”
ESPN rates Green as a three-star prospect and as the No. 58 cornerback in the 2013 recruiting class, but his scouting report also states that “we see potential as a utility back on the offensive side of the ball.”
It appears as if that’s where he will begin his college career, utilizing his skills as a receiver, back and kick returner -- an area where he stood out at Camden County.
“I guess probably his sophomore year, we were playing Miami Central who won the 6A championship in Florida that year,” Herron said. “They had just scored on a long pass and they kicked off to him and he ran it back and outran some of the fastest kids I’ve ever seen. I think they had 18 Division I signees that year. Certainly we saw a lot of other plays, but that’s one that sticks in my mind with him.”
While at Camden County, Green made his mark as a physical defender at cornerback despite his size. But he probably fits better as a slot receiver and return man at Georgia than in Todd Grantham’s defensive scheme, where he typically prefers to deploy bigger corners.
Regardless, Green and Camden County teammate Brice Ramsey, a highly rated quarterback, were among the Bulldogs’ 13 January enrollees, and Green will have a chance to prove this spring that he deserves a longer look in the fall.
Henderson came to Georgia as a defensive back, but found a niche as a receiver and explosive return man several years back. Perhaps Green will be the next little guy to do the same once he adjusts to the increased speed of the college game.
“There are a million things [Green and Ramsey] can work on and improve,” Herron said, “because it’s just the next level and everything’s going to happen faster.”