Matt Campbell’s face lit up when I said the name Karson Green early this month on National Signing Day in the back of the Iowa State football team meeting rooms at the Bergstrom Football Complex.
The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Madill, Okla. native was one of the most highly-sought junior college offensive linemen in the country before Campbell and his crew swooped in and signed him out of NE Oklahoma A&M.
Green arrived in Ames four weeks ago for the start of the spring semester and the impression he’s made has been, well, impressive.
“If you had to use one word to describe Karson Green, what would that word be?” I asked Campbell.
“I would have to say tough,” Campbell replied. “That’s the thing that’s most impressive thing about him.”
He’s a player that has the versatility to play multiple positions along the offensive line. That will be especially crucial for an Iowa State team looking to replace almost every key player up front.
He’s got the intelligence, skill and strength to play center or guard but he also has the speed and quickness to play tackle.
He’s an offensive line coach’s dream.
“I’ve done everyhing from snap the ball to doing guard and tackle drills,” Green said. “They all pertain to each other but only time will tell.”
If you factor out his size, you’d never know Green was the No. 13 junior college offensive guard in the country last year according to ESPN.
He isn’t one to pound his chest or pump himself up. He isn’t going to say he’s the best offensive lineman on the team before he’s played a snap.
Even in a quick interview you can tell he’s humble, funny and generous, even offering to hold the microphone for KASI Radio’s Dave Sprau. You don’t see that often, especially from 6-foot-4 guys with blonde hair down to their shoulders.
“It’s all about just working hard and getting what I’ve earned,” Green said about getting early playing time. “That factor didn’t really matter to me when choosing a school or anything like that. I’m just kind of a go with the flow kind of guy and just let it work itself out. Work hard and if God wants me to be there, that’s where I’ll be.”
Green isn’t really the typical junior college player. He was a qualifier out of high school but sometimes the interest just isn’t there.
It’s hard to believe now but he was lightly recruited out of high school and the same can be said regarding the offseason after his freshman year of junior college ball.
Something changed his sophomore year. He got his first major offer and then the floodgates opened.
“I picked up my first Division I offer and then everything skyrocketed,” Green said. “I got calls from everywhere. Scholarships from here, there. Come visit us but it was just an easy choice to come to Iowa State.”
That easy choice and that toughness have been put into question over the past couple weeks. Green is from southern Oklahoma, right on the border with Texas.
It doesn’t get very cold in southern Oklahoma.
“My God, I woke up this morning and there was like a foot of snow. I wore six layers of clothes,” Green said. “You’re still trying to adjust to where you’re living, who you’re hanging out with, how classes are going so I’m just now getting settled in. The experience of Ames is great so far.”