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March 20, 2013This is a big year for Deion Green.
Last season the Edgewater High School alum saw his first collegiate action making the Conference USA All-Freshman Team as a reserve rush-end, but now the redshirt sophomore finds himself in a more featured role as one of the two defensive end starters.
As a defensive line, Green knows they'll have to step up their game since the Knights will be playing without senior Victor Gray, who recently learned his football career was over after suffering a serious spinal injury.
Video interview with Deion Green
Talk about how things are going this spring. You got in there a lot last season and now this is a big spring to continue to move up since you'll be in a more featured role. How is everything going out there?
"It's an extremely positive situation. I got mentored by Troy (Davis) and Victor (Gray), so I got a lot of mental reps last year. Now I'm getting more of the physical reps. Everything is going well. Just getting stronger and better. My technique is improving and that's the main thing. That chemistry is really tight now."
You mentioned Victor Gray, who everyone thought would be with you guys this year but unfortunately he has the back injury and can't play anymore. What was going through your mind when you learned that? Was that tough to take?
"Honestly, I was really emotional when I found out the news just because I knew that a guy who had the potential to go further in this sport was done for the rest of his career. Also, just a fellow brother. I loved him like an older brother and to see him go was real tough for me."
What did you learn from Victor in the years you've been here? Has he given you words of wisdom knowing you're moving into a more prominent role now?
"The biggest piece of wisdom he gave me was ironically off-the-field advice. It was to market yourself and network with people. Make yourself more presentable. That was one thing that he really imparted with me and something I'm trying to do. Always get along with people, speak with people and be very cordial."
Where do you think you can improve from last year?
"I want to continue to get stronger. Last year I wasn't as solid on my runs, so I want to definitely improve that and improve my technique on the runs. I was a situational player. I would get in only on pass rush situations last year. I want to work on my run fits and stuff like that. Definitely trying to keep my gaps and stuff like that."
From a leadership standpoint, looking at that defensive line with Victor no longer there, is it more of a group effort? I know E.J. Dunston has been around, and you're coming back with some experience.
"Definitely leadership by committee. There's me, E.J. and Thomas (Niles) on the defensive line taking that leadership role. Right now I'm still trying to take in all my coaching. I definitely want to lead by example and show the younger guys how it's done. I definitely want to step up."
How are those younger guys coming along on the defensive line?
"Demetris (Anderson) is doing real good. Also, Luke Adams. Luke is doing real well. His pass rush is really improving. David Nelson as well. He's doing well. The younger guys are really improving and really stepping up. If I don't watch out, they'll be on my heels. They're here to take my position and I'm here to retain my position. I definitely want those guys improving because it's good competition."
What's it like working with Coach Zo, who is your new defensive line coach this year? He's an experienced coach and was actually here at UCF about 10 years ago.
"Coach Zo is a perfectionist. Even if you do well, he's going to find the small detail that you did wrong so you can improve that so your game can be perfect. That's what I really like about him. You can blow a guy up in the backfield and he'll tell you that you stepped with the wrong foot. He's a perfectionist and that's what I really take from him. I like him."
The 2013 schedule just came out. You knew who you were playing, but now you see you've got a Thursday game against Rutgers, a Friday night game at Louisville, USF on that Black Friday. There's a lot national TV games and exposure opportunities. Was that exciting as a player to see that?
"I'm extremely excited for the UCF brand. We're getting out there. I'm extremely excited for our schedule. We get to play some of the marquee teams in the nation, like South Carolina. I think it's an awesome opportunity to show our talents and show that we can hang with the best of them. It's definitely going to be a good opportunity."
Do you have a favorite football player? Somebody when you were growing up you'd always like to watch?
"My favorite football player is Clay Matthews, by far. I just love the way he plays and the way he comes off the edge. He's vicious. In high school I also played a little bit of wide receiver, so I liked to look at Larry Fitzgerald as well. He was a great player, but off-the-field he's so humble. I just wanted to take that from his game even if I couldn't be a wide receiver. I definitely wanted to be the humble guy he was."
What was your favorite moment of last season? Was there a favorite play that you had?
"I'd definitely say the Marshall game. I can't remember what number the play was, but I got a sack and I got to celebrate with my teammates. That was my favorite moment by far."
Is getting that sack the best feeling for a defensive end?
"Definitely. Even if you don't get the sack, just celebrating with your teammates when they get a sack. It's definitely a good experience."