The entire Chattanooga football program has been counting down the days until its Sept. 1 opener. One player has been waiting much longer.
Sophomore Marquis Green had that date circled since before even enrolling at UTC.
“I knew about this game before I came up here as a freshman,” Green said. “My senior year of high school I found out we’d be playing South Florida. Those two years went real fast.”
Not only does Saturday’s season-opener in Tampa fall on the sophomore’s 20th birthday, he’ll be playing in his home state for the first time since his high school days.
A graduate of Palmetto High School, about a 45-minute drive down Interstate 275 from Raymond James Stadium, Green sees Saturday’s game as “basically like a homecoming.”
“I always go into a game ready to perform my best,” he said. “This may help give me the extra edge maybe. I’ll have my family, my mom and dad watching. That may give me the extra edge to play even better.”
Green was a two-time All-Manatee County selection at Palmetto, and he was a member of the Tigers’ district-champion 400-meter relay team as well. The 5-7, 175-pound back showed off that stride during his freshman season, racking up a team-best 530 yards — No. 2 on UTC’s all-time freshman list.
That speed will come in handy for the Mocs when they square off against an extremely fast Bulls team.
“Get to the edge, stretch it,” said Green on his assumed role Saturday. “Just quick-hitting plays because I’ve got a little speed. Get those guys running side to side and see if they can run.”
Head coach Russ Huesman said Tuesday at his press conference that senior J.J. Jackson would likely receive the start, but the Mocs have a crowded backfield between Green, Jackson, senior Chris Awuah, redshirt sophomore Keon Williams and redshirt freshman Kendrix Huitt.
Like the quarterback situation, it’s not exactly clear how the running back position will shake out this year. It does appear one every-down back won’t be a possibility.
“We’ll try to play it based on who has the hot hand,” Huesman said. “Marquis Green may start. I don’t know, if his package is called. It may be Marquis and J.J. in there, it may be J.J. and Keon. It may be Taharin (Tyson) and somebody. I don’t know.”
Anthony almost there
Junior Marlon Anthony’s preseason has been slowed by a second-degree ankle sprain which kept the junior sidelined for nearly two weeks, but it appears the 6-5, 220-pound wide receiver will be good to go Saturday.
Anthony originally suffered the injury on Aug. 8, and since his return to full-contact workouts last week, the ankle still seems to be nagging him.
“An offensive lineman with an ankle (injury), they can just walk around and be fine,” Huesman said. “A wide out with an ankle (injury), it makes it tough. I don’t want to be mean to Marlon, because I understand. You’ve got to cut, you’ve got to come out of breaks, go up for the ball and come down. I think part of it might be him trying to protect it until he’s 100 percent.
“He’ll be 100 percent by the time we play, I’m pretty sure of that.”