When Shayon Green learned that fifth-year senior linebacker Ramon Buchanan sustained a second major knee injury Saturday on the same knee Buchanan tore last October, tears welled in Green’s eyes.
“That was very upsetting,” Green said this week, taking a few moments to compose himself. “He’s in my prayers.”
Green’s empathy is palpable. The 6-3, 260-pound Miami defensive end tore the anterior cruciate ligament of his right knee as a freshman during 2009 fall camp. He tore the same ACL again during spring practice of 2011.
“But I never quit,” he said.
This medical marvel, an inspiration to teammates and coaches alike, resumed his playing career six months after his second reconstructive surgery. This season, the redshirt junior leads the Hurricanes (1-1) in tackles with 15 — highlighted by his tackle-for-loss on an attempted trick play from the 1-yard line at Kansas State in the second quarter.
KSU missed an attempted field goal on the next play.
‘tough as they come’
“He’s as tough as they come,” defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said of Green, who plays strong-side, rush end and nose tackle on third downs. “He has come back from multiple injuries, yet he throws it around every day. Here’s an example of someone who doesn’t make excuses, a guy playing three positions and owning the game plan.”
Green, 21, grew up in Tifton, Ga., where he was rated the No. 65 weak-side defensive end by Rivals.com. He said his mother, a nurse, and father, who owns a small construction company, helped keep his spirits up through both ACL tears.
“Proud is not the word,” said Larry Green, who had just hung up with Shayon a day after the demoralizing 52-13 loss at Kansas State. “He’s very respectful, well mannered, smart — and I love him to death. He was a little upset because he’s a leader on the defensive line, and they played poorly. I told him, ‘Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get ready for Bethune-Cookman. You’ve got to rally your troops.’”
That, Green has done. The Bethune game, UM’s home opener, is at noon Saturday. The Wildcats, in the Football Championship Subdivision, are 2-0.
“I’m the type of guy that can’t sit still,” Green said. “If I have a challenge, I’m going to overcome it. Doctors told me there was a possibility I wouldn’t play football again. I said, ‘That’s not going to happen to me.’
“We won’t give up this season. You’ve got to keep fighting, man.”
Off the field, Green is soft spoken and polite. He majors in exercise physiology and aspires to be a physical therapist after football.
“My injuries have taught me so much about the body,” he said. “I’ve taken a liking to studying about it.”
On the field, UM coach Golden said, Green “does a good job fitting the runs and plays with a great motor. … He’s playing hard, he plays physically and he’s very responsible in terms of being accountable and doing his job. We’ve got to get more production from other guys, but Shayon has done a really nice job so far.”
Fellow defensive end Anthony Chickillo, only a sophomore, has UM’s lone sack and has consistently been double-teamed.
“I don’t think there’s any question we need to get to the quarterback more,” Golden said. “Everything starts with the four-man rush. It’s important we improve our four-man rush before we start allocating five and six. We collectively need to improve.”
Green acknowledged UM’s pass rush has been nonexistent.
“We’re focusing on getting our hands up and batting the ball down,” he said, “getting off the ball faster and getting there as a unit, not just one person at a time.”
As for Buchanan, Golden addressed the team Monday about his situation.
“I just feel really bad for him,” the coach said. “We’re going to try to have the surgery this week. It’s too early to start talking about what his future is and what he wants to do, but we’re all grateful for what he’s meant for us. … It may not be over, we don’t know.”
Green has been through it, and he already has talked to Buchanan.
“I told him, ‘Man, keep going and keep doing what you’re doing,’” he said. “ ‘Brother, keep having the mind-set that you’re going to get right.’ ”