By now, University of Hawaii football fans know a lot about Alex Green — and they (as well as NFL scouts) will learn more in the coming weeks as he closes out his college career and gets ready for the pros. The senior from Portland, Ore., turned in one of the most impressive performances in UH history Saturday, rushing for a school-record 327 yards.
The things you’ve been reading and hearing, I think they are true after watching Green play and interviewing him several times over the past two seasons. Yes, he’s a complete running back — big, strong, fast, durable, good blocker and pass catcher. And, yes, he’s a humble team-first kind of guy. I don’t see any flaws that would keep him off an NFL roster next fall.
I also believe Green’s massive yardage in UH’s 59-24 victory over New Mexico State helped propel the Warriors into the Associated Press Top 25. UH’s win got a lot of exposure it wouldn’t have without something so eye-catching. Green’s exploits, coupled with a 1 p.m. Mountain time kickoff, gave voters plenty of time and opportunity to take note of Hawaii’s win — heck, I bet it even made the big sports news ticker at Times Square, like when Ken Niumatalolo got hired at Navy.
Green worked hard adjusting to not being a primary weapon (until recently) in the run-and-shoot offense. He mastered his blocking assignments, he shared time with Leon Wright-Jackson last year.
So, as his quarterback, Bryant Moniz, says, Green definitely deserves his time in the spotlight.
Green’s great day also gives us reason to learn about another UH star — the one he knocked out of the record book, who had been a fixture in it since 1950.
Often, while thumbing through the media guide, I’ve wondered about Pete Wilson. Why is his one mention his 270-yard game against BYU? Is he still around, and if so, where does he live?
And — most of all — what does he think of Alex Green breaking his record?
I find him; his son, Marc, tells us he’s alive and well on Maui.
His wife, Carol, answers the phone and hands it to him.
I say hello and ask him how he’s doing.
A one-beat pause.
"I’m pissed off!"
Oh, oh. But when he starts laughing, I know he’s my kind of guy.
"To me, it is funny. I figure, 60 years, that’s pretty good. The fun part is the arguing and the discussion. My friends have been calling (since the game), and I’ve been trying to come up with excuses about why I didn’t run for 350 yards that day. The linemen are bigger now. The quarterback didn’t like me. The pads now are lighter."
Laughter again. You get the feeling this 82-year-old laughs a lot.
"It was a nice day at Honolulu Stadium. We beat ‘hapless BYU 39-7,’ that’s what the yearbook says. After the game they tore down the goal post. What did my friends remember? They said, ‘Yeah, Peter, you went home by yourself.’ "
Peter Wilson went to Punahou, where he played football just one season. He was more of a track guy.
"My senior year I quit being the team manager and tried out, and I was pretty good."
Injuries slowed him at UH; so, again he played just his senior season, 1950.
He played at 5-feet-10 and 190 pounds, and 10-flat speed in the hundred (remember, yards in those days) was his ace card.
After college, Wilson continued in the work field he’d been in since age 14 — fishing.
"I worked on aku boats during World War II because there was a shortage of men. I eventually went to work for a company called Global Ocean Consultants, and it sent me all over the world, Palau, New Guinea, Africa. A lot of work overseas, involved in tuna fishing and packing."
He and Carol retired to Kula in 2000. His progeny include three sons and three grandchildren.
"My youngest son, Derek Wilson, he set some rushing records at Hawaii Prep.
"I’m healthy, because my wife keeps me busy, working around the house. I’ve been really lucky with the life I’ve had."
After talking with him, I’m adding Wilson to my list of favorite UH running backs (see it at the Quick Reads blog). So what if he played 11 years before I was born? A 270-yard game against BYU is good enough for me.
And, of course, Alex Green makes the list, too, up near the top.