UNIVERSITY PARK -- Stephfon Green has always wanted to hit a home run every time he touched the ball, but he now realizes he can't make the kind of impact he wants to make with that mindset.
Green didn't sugarcoat anything when he called his 2009 season "below average" during Friday's Lift for Life. The redshirt junior talked about needing to work on consistency and how frustrating that process has been for him at Penn State.
The speedster always knew he could break off a 20- or 30-yard run in high school, but college is a much different story.
"Now you come here, everybody's just as fast," Green said. "So I guess that's been my struggle is just slowing the game down and letting the game come to me.
"But I'm working at it. I'm still a student of the game, and I continue to make some progress with that."
Great things have always been expected of Green, and he got off to a good start as a redshirt freshman in 2008 with 578 yards and four TDs. Then he broke his ankle in the Rose Bowl.
"It took me more than I expected," he said of the recovery process.
Green played in 11 games last season -- missing two late contests with an ankle injury -- and gained only 319 yards.
He will be counted on for a lot more production this season as the Nittany Lions try to find some offensive consistency with a young quarterback. He'll back up Evan Royster but should see his carries increase as long as he's healthy and productive.
"Royster is a better athlete right now," Green said. "I'm working to try and either be on his level or above his level, and I just have to wait my turn. Patience is a virtue, and it's something I'm going to have to learn to accept and just wait my turn."
Green explodes to the line of scrimmage, and if he breaks through is capable of taking it the distance from anywhere on the field.
That's only going to happen a few times at most, however, and Green realizes he must make adjustments to be productive in every-down situations.
"Just slowing everything down and not thinking everything is a home run," he said of his focus. "Just me slowing down and understanding the blocking schemes and things like that and becoming more of a student of the game.
"That's what I have been doing, that's what I'm going to continue to do. And hopefully one day I'll just go down in the record books setting some records here at Penn State."
Green played last year at 195 pounds and is at 200 now, with hopes of getting to 205 for the season.
He'll have to play second fiddle to Royster once again this season, and he's fine with that as he said he just wants to contribute in "any way, shape or form."
"There's no 'I' in team, and I'm a team player," Green said. "So I'm just going to play my role to my best ability and just help this team accomplish what we set out to accomplish."
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.