Nogales Rusher Isn't in Big Time but Big Schools Impressed

Times Staff Writer

You won't hear his name mentioned in the same breath as high profile All-American prep running backs such as Russell White of Crespi and Derek Brown of Servite.

When it comes to being noticed, Daryl Green might as well be the Invisible Man.

But then again, the 17-year-old Green doesn't play in the CIF Division I. He plays for Nogales High in La Puente, a Division IV program.

"The question I've always had was, 'Can I play in the Big Five Conference (Division I)?," Green says. "After a while you figure it really doesn't matter as long as I make a name for myself, and that's what I'm trying to do.

"I know I can play with them (White and Brown). I'm just as good. I just don't have all those 220-pound linemen in front of me."

Maybe Green hasn't exactly been Mr. Publicity and perhaps he hasn't always had the supporting cast of a White or Brown, but he has quietly established himself as one of the premier senior running backs in Southern California.

In 3 years as a starter for the Nobles, the 5-10, 175-pound Green has rushed for 2,865 yards and 25 touchdowns. As a senior, he has rushed for 843 yards and 7 touchdowns in 124 carries to rank among the leaders in the San Gabriel Valley.

But it wasn't until he was named to the all-valley team as a junior that he started receiving notice.

"It just seemed like more people noticed me after that," Green said. "Me and my mom walked in the store and people knew who I was. That got the ball rolling. I enjoy stuff like that. It's nice to get noticed."

With his 4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash and great break-away ability, Green has always had to deal with extra attention from opponents. He says it has increased since they learned he was a major-college prospect.

"Everyone knows who I am and they all go after me," he said. "Then they hear I'm a Division I prospect and they are really out to stop me. They call my name out before the play starts and I say to myself, 'Wait a minute. They know where I'm going.'

"I think it's great, though, because when I do have a good game against them--when I know they're keying on me--I know I did well. That tells me I'm a good ballplayer."

If that doesn't convince him, he can always turn to the countless letters and phone calls he has been receiving from college recruiters such as national powers USC, UCLA, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Michigan, Colorado, Arizona, Washington and Syracuse.

"At first I was kind of worried," Green conceded. "At the end of my junior year I didn't know if I was popular enough (among scouts) to get a lot of notice. Then I just started getting calls all the time."

Perhaps a few too many calls.

"They wound up calling all night," he said. "It was not out of hand but it was pretty bad."

Since the first wave of phone calls, Green has learned to deal with recruiters. He hasn't made recruiting visits but expects to take the first of his five allowed trips (under NCAA rules) in November.

"I went to the University of Arizona to visit an old friend (defensive back Darryl Lewis) but it was an unofficial visit," he said. "I'm just starting to set things up."

Although he has gained most of his notice as a running back, Green also is an outstanding defensive back for the Nobles and he said some colleges are recruiting him for that position.

Laing Stevens, Green's coach, thinks he can star at either position.

"It depends on where he goes," Stevens said. "If he goes to USC he's probably not going to play running back. But he's a good leaper and he's very quick and could easily play both positions. He's got the kind of talent to play on either side of the ball."

Added Green: "When I look at a school like a Washington, Syracuse or Nebraska, I say I'm a running back because they don't have a lot of running backs. Then I look at an SC and they have 30 running backs and I look at myself as a defensive back. I guess it depends on the school and what kind of mind I'm in. If the academics were good and I'm satisfied with the school then I might change my position."

He said the fact that he is friends with players such as Lewis of Arizona and (former Bishop Amat star running back) Eric Bieniemy of Colorado will be a factor in his decision.

"That'll play a big role, the fact that I know them," he said. "It will influence my recruiting a lot, but it seems like everywhere I go I know somebody."

The fact that he has competed with players such as Lewis at Nogales gives Green confidence to succeed at the high school level and in college.

"When I was younger I played with kids older than me," he said. "Now as a senior I feel if I can play with kids older than me I can play with kids my own age.

"It's a little more of a benefit, because before I played with older kids and now I watch them in college. That makes me know I can play with them in college, too."

Green met Bieniemy at a football camp in Colorado last summer. That's where he also worked on increasing his speed.

"I'm way faster than I was as a sophomore," he said. "Me and Jerome Rowser (fullback at Nogales) went to the University of Colorado, and they have great running backs like J. J. Flannigan (former Pomona High star) and Bieniemy. Eric really worked with me a lot. They helped me go a lot faster and I learned not to hesitate on where I want to go."

Green also worked on improving his strength.

"I was with our strength and conditioning coach this summer and he helped me a lot," he said. "I left a lot better than when I came in. It wasn't a lot of fun, but now I'm glad they were on my back. Now, not only can I run around them, I can also run over them."

Strength might have been a question for Green earlier in his prep career, but athletic ability certainly was not.

As a youth, Green also played baseball and basketball. Although he stopped playing baseball before high school, he played basketball for Nogales until he decided to concentrate on football after his sophomore season.

"I was pretty good at all three sports, but there came a time when I had to make a decision about which sport I would concentrate on," he said. "I knew that one day I'd have to make a decision. If it had come down to the two (basketball and football), I'd have probably taken football, just because I'm better in football."

Green started playing football when he was 9, about 2 years after he moved from Ohio to Southern California. He said football has always been his best sport and he has always played running back. He has a cousin, Cris Carter, who stars at wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League.

He would like to follow in his cousin's footsteps but for the moment is more concerned about helping his high school team win. Nogales is in a four-way tie for first place in the Sierra League at 3-1 and plays another of the leaders, Rowland, on Friday.

Green said the success of his team this season has helped improve his game.

"With everyone doing well around you, it makes you play better," he says. "It really helps me as a player."

Although Green said he is looking forward to starting his recruiting trips in November, he said he wouldn't mind postponing them so he can appear in the CIF playoffs one last time.

"I'll have plenty of time for trips," he said. "I just don't want to be sitting home in November talking about what we could've done or should've done."

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