UNIVERSITY PARK _ Penn State fans and media had heard of Stephfon Green's blazing speed prior to the Blue-White Game. It was something only teammates and coaches had seen in practice.
And then he was let loose in the annual scrimmage. On his first carry, Green, who was timed at 4.25 in the 40 in high school, beat everybody to the sideline and raced 57 yards for a touchdown.
With Rodney Kinlaw gone, everybody starting guessing how Green and Kinlaw's backup, Evan Royster, would be used in the 2008 season. Who will start when the Nittany Lions open against Coastal Carolina?
Royster was No. 1 on the preseason depth chart, while Green was No. 2. Both Royster, a redshirt sophomore who ran for 513 yards on 82 carries last season, and Green were asked if they saw themselves as starters.
"I don't think anybody does at this point," he said. "We're still battling for the spot, and anybody can get it when the season comes around."
"I see myself as a contributing back to this team," Green said. "Evan is the starter. I've done everything to put myself in that position. That's up to the guys upstairs."
Starter lost: Rodney Kinlaw (243 carries, 1,329 yards, 10 TDs)
No. 1 on depth chart: Evan Royster (82 carries, 513 yards, 5 TDs)
Other possible starter: Stephfon Green (87 yards, 12 carries, in Blue-White Game)
Joe Paterno and offensive coordinator Galen Hall will have to decide if they want more of a traditional power back in the 6-foot-1, 211-pound Royster or a 5-10, 194-pound burner like Green starting behind fifth-year senior fullback Dan Lawlor.
"I've just got to keep working hard," Royster said, "and show them I can be a good power back. I can also get into the open field and make some people miss."
There's a lot of talk about the spread offense, but the tailback could still be called on to carry the ball 25 or 30 times a game.
"I think I'm capable," Royster said, "but it's not necessary. We could put Stephfon in and get him on the outside and get him 10-15 carries and me 10-15 carries. We'd have a great day on the ground."
"My heart makes up for my height and weight," Green said. "I feel that I can carry the ball 20-25 times a game. I don't like it when people say I'm a third down or situational back. That's like an insult because I feel like I work hard on and off the field."
Paterno defended Green when the notion was brought up at media day about the redshirt freshman not being to handle a lot carries.
"Oh, I think he can handle 20 or 25," Paterno said. "He's a little bigger kid than you think. He's not tall, but I think he came into camp about 190 or 192 pounds. He's a good, solid kid. He's in great shape.
"I think Stephfon's got a great career ahead of him. He didn't finish up his high school [senior] year the way he started it because of a knee injury. But, I think Stephon will be fine, and we think he can be an all-purpose back."
The most carries Green said he ever got at John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx were 12. Green, who says he's gotten bigger, stronger and faster since the Blue-White Game, was asked how many times he usually carried the ball in high school.
He grinned and said, "I don't like to be cocky, but I was out by halftime in most of the games. Before I got hurt, I had 50 carries for 740 yards. One game, I carried it six times and I was out of the game with 330 yards."
Royster missed the last two regular-season games because of a sprained ankle. But in the 24-17 win over Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl, he ran for 65 yards on nine carries and scored the winning touchdown on a 38-yard run in the third quarter.
"I got a couple games under my belt last year and a little bit of experience," Royster said, "but I've still got a lot of learning to do. Last year was huge. If I didn't get to play last year, I'd come into this year nervous. It will be a lot easier getting into a game and being ready for the big hits.
"All the fans make me feel like I'm a real big part of this team," Royster said. "All of my teammates are relying on me now. It's a good feeling, but it's also a lot of pressure."
For his part, Green says he's ready to play in his first full season since his junior year in high school.
"My confidence level is high because I'm around a good group of guys," Green said. "We have a well experienced offensive line. I've got guys that I'm learning from. I'm ready to contribute to this team. I want to help get this team to the goal, and that's to win a national championship."