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The Green zone

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / 2010
    Alex Green was the first Hawaii player taken in this year’s draft.
  • STAR-ADVERTISER / 2010
    Alex Green rushed for 1,199 yards last season, averaging better than 8 yards a carry. He ran for 18 touchdowns.
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Alex Green was 6 when he decided on his future occupation.

“I always wanted to be a football player,” Green said. “That was my only dream. When I first got my football cleats, I slept with them on. I always had a football in my hand. That was my dream. Now it’s my job. You can’t beat that.”

Yesterday, Green’s goal was realized when the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers selected the former University of Hawaii running back with the next-to-last pick of the third round of the NFL Draft. The fourth through seventh rounds will be conducted today.

Midway through the third round, Green left his Portland, Ore., home to pick up his daughter, Harlym, at her mother’s house. While there, he received a call from the Packers.

“Are you having a good day?” Green said he was asked.

After saying, “Yes,” Green was told: “It’s about to get better.”

That was when Green learned he would soon be selected. Green was so stunned he forgot to call his mother, Phyllis Smith, who was hosting a small gathering at the family home.

Smith was about to call it a night when Green’s name “popped up on the (TV) screen. … We yelled so much, I think we woke up the entire neighborhood.”

Meanwhile, Green embraced Harlym, who turns 3 in June. He also has a 6-month-old son, Kingston.

“That was my goal from Day 1, when I went to a junior college,” Green said. “I wanted to take care of my family. They made a lot of sacrifices for me. I thought the best way to do it was to play football. Football is like a business. I’m grateful for the career.”

Green was the draft’s 96th selection. Last year’s 96th pick — cornerback Brandon Ghee, by the Cincinnati Bengals — signed a four-year contract, which included a signing bonus of $648,000. In the standard NFL contract, only the signing bonus is guaranteed. The Packers did not have a third-round pick in 2010.

“I’m just really excited for Alex,” UH coach Greg McMackin said. “All of the work he’s done, both on the field and off it, has paid off. It’s a credit to Alex and Brian (Smith, UH’s running backs coach). Now he gets to play for the world champions.”

During the ESPN2 telecast, draft analyst Todd McShay praised Green’s versatility. In 2010, Green’s second season at UH — and first as a starter — he rushed for 1,199 yards, an average of 8.2 yards per carry, and 18 touchdowns. He also caught 27 passes for 363 yard and a touchdown.

“Look at him,” McShay said during the highlight video. “He’s 225 pounds, and he catches the ball like a wide receiver out of the backfield. … That’s big-time production. If he never starts, he still can help on third downs, and he can be a pretty good return man, as well.”

Smith said her son pledged allegiance to the sport at an early age. When he was 6, he was allowed to compete with older players in a flag-football league. That trend continued in Pop Warner, when he gained early admission.

Green attended Eastern Arizona College for a year before transferring to Butte College. A Butte teammate was the younger brother of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Green said he grew up as a fan of the Detroit Lions, mostly because of running back Barry Sanders.

But he said he rooted for the Packers in this year’s Super Bowl. Looking at the big picture, he is ready to say, “Cheese.”

“It’s probably my favorite snack,” Green said.

Smith added: “My husband is from Nebraska, so we have Cornhusker (hats) all around here. Now we’re going to get cheeseheads.”

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