Signing with the Trojans in 2009 as a member of Pete Carroll’s final recruiting haul at USC, Kevin Greene was part of a group that went through a roller coaster ride of emotions in their time on campus, but that now finds themselves leaving on a positive note after overcoming a number of obstacles on their way to a 10-win season in 2013.
Garnering a reputation as a tireless worker with a selfless mentality, Greene spent the first four years of his career as a reserve on defense, primarily at defensive end, before being asked to make the transition to tight end this past August during fall camp. Making a full-time switch to the position midway through the schedule after moving back to defense at outside linebacker for the early portion of the season, the fifth-year senior provided crucial depth at a spot that was in desperate need of healthy bodies. A popular player amongst his teammates, the Oakland (Calif.) native also served an important function as a veteran leader.
Having recently earned a master’s degree in digital technology to go along with his undergraduate degree in communications, Greene took time out to talk to WeAreSC about his Trojans career while also revealing what’s on tap for the next phase of his life.
WeAreSC: What have you been up to since the conclusion of the season?
Kevin Greene: I’ve just been preparing for Pro Day. I basically started training on Jan. 2. I’m training out in Sherman Oaks (Calif.). I moved out to the valley area on the first of the year and I’ve been out here ever since.
WeAreSC: Who are you training with and how has that process been going?
Greene: It’s called Athletic Gains, and I’m training with a couple of other guys from around the country. For starters, Devon Kennard is out here with me. As far as UCLA is concerned -- Cassius Marsh and Anthony Barr, Lache Seastrunk from Baylor, Terrance Mitchell from Oregon and then James Wilder Jr. from Florida State. We’ve been grinding and putting in a lot of work, so it’s been good.
WeAreSC: You spent the first four years of your USC career on the defensive side of the ball before being asked to switch over to tight end where you finished off this past season. How did you approach that move and what was that transition like?
Greene: At first I was a little discouraged, to be honest, because the whole summer and offseason I was training to be a pass-rusher, and just becoming more comfortable with the outside linebacker position. And then I think it was the second or third day of fall camp when Coach [Ed] Orgeron told me that they were going to send me down to the tight ends to see if I could catch any balls. Of course, you don’t want to seem discouraged when a coach tells you that in front of your defensive line unit, so I just went down there, ran some routes, caught some balls and I felt extremely comfortable at the position. And I think the biggest thing that helped me with that transition was that I grew up playing basketball, so going up to catch a football is basically no different from going up to get a rebound.
WeAreSC: With that said, what are you going into Pro Day as?
Greene: Going into Pro Day I’m going to go in as a tight end. That’s basically where I’ve been playing since the Notre Dame game when all of our tight ends got hurt. I basically told Coach O then that I wanted to make the switch back. That’s where I feel more comfortable. I think playing that position will give me a better chance because it adds to what I can do on the field, and I think most coaches and scouts may see me more as an athlete because I’m going out as a tight end, but at the same time I have that tape where I’m playing defense.
WeAreSC: Where are you at in terms of your height and weight?
Greene: I’m 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds.
WeAreSC: What did it mean to you to be able to play your home games in the Coliseum?
Greene: I definitely took a lot of pride in being a USC Trojan. Just being out there at the Coliseum and just running out of that tunnel, you hear about all of the history that took place in there, and in the recent past with the national championships and everything, so it means a lot. Just to be a part of that, and just to call yourself a Trojan, it goes a long way.
WeAreSC: You received your undergraduate degree in communications, and you just recently finished up your master’s in digital marketing. How big is it for you to come out of USC with those degrees?
Greene: It’s definitely a big time accomplishment that I really take pride in. I could have just made the decision to go another route and just taken a couple of classes to stay eligible, but to be able to say you have a master’s, that’s one thing that a lot of people in this country just can’t say they have. And then just to have it from such a prestigious school, it’s definitely an eyebrow raiser. I feel blessed to have it.
WeAreSC: If football doesn’t work out, what would you like to do in the future?
Greene: If football were to not work out, I would definitely want to join on to a marketing team within a company. If I can be the head guy within a corporation and lead their marketing group [and] decide which commercials go out there, how they want to market a product that’s coming out -- that’s something that I’m very good at doing, so that’s what I want to do. Whether that’s for Twitter, EA … whatever. My biggest thing is that I don’t want to be the type of person that’s basically sitting in limbo, not knowing what they want to do, and not having a plan. So in this time while I’m training I’ve been setting up meetings and emailing a lot of my contacts, because now is the time where I can really talk to them.
WeAreSC: Favorite on or off-campus eating spot?
Greene: There’s a place in University Village, it’s called Sandwich Island. Before all of our long road games, when we went to New York, Notre Dame or Hawaii, I’d always go there to grab a pastrami sandwich before those flights, because the food on the flight would be terrible. It was kind of like a tradition for me.
WeAreSC: If you had one message for USC fans, what would it be?
Greene: Just thank you. Thank you for the support. Thank you for just being there for us through thick and thin … You truly don’t understand what it means until you take a step off campus, to another state, and then you see people that will tell you, ‘fight on.’ If you have anything on that says USC, someone is bound to start a conversation with you, talking about football, talking about life -- anything. And just the relationship you have with the fans and the alumni, it’s something magical, and it’s something that I think no other school possesses.