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Florida Gators' Chaz Green, a former Tampa Catholic star, earns starting role on offensive line

UF redshirt freshman Chaz Green (75), making his first start vs. FAU, is living up to his hype coming out of Tampa Catholic.

TIM CASEY | Gator Country

UF redshirt freshman Chaz Green (75), making his first start vs. FAU, is living up to his hype coming out of Tampa Catholic.

GAINESVILLE — About a half-hour after his face appeared on the Jumbotron at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday night, along with the rest of Florida's starting lineup, Chaz Green realized he was a bit nervous.

The redshirt freshman offensive lineman out of Tampa Catholic was about to make his first start as a Gator, and with Florida implementing a new offense, fans were eager to see it all, including the offensive line, which had been considered by most a key question mark entering the season.

And then Green remembered something. This was what he had been preparing for all along. He was prepared.

"I was a little nervous, but I knew after that first play I would be all right," Green said. "Then I wasn't real nervous because I was prepared. I knew I was going to play either way. It was good to get the start. I'm just trying to help the team out, and they felt like it was best that I start. Whatever helps the team out. But I was prepared."

He has been preparing since last spring when practice began. He went from being mired in the depth chart to moving toward center stage as multiple injuries took a toll on the offensive line.

Green dressed for 12 games last season but didn't play. For a young man who was rated the No. 6 offensive lineman in the nation coming out of Tampa Catholic, sitting and watching was tough to handle.

"It was frustrating at times," Green said. "At first I was frustrated, but then I had to be mature about it, and I knew I wasn't ready. So it was good to work behind guys like (Marcus) Gilbert and learn the offense. It was good to learn the game a little more."

As he watched and learned, he began to work on his game. His turnaround began after the new staff arrived following Urban Meyer's departure as coach in January.

"It's interesting because he really struggled in the spring, but he was also kind of a one-man gang," offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said. "There was no (Xavier Nixon) for half the spring, no (Matt) Patchan for the whole spring. As far as full time goes, he was like a man in his own country.

"But I think once he got into that rotation with those other guys, competition started getting better and better. I think he's a very competitive person, and I think the competition made him play better."

With the lack of depth, offensive line coach Frank Verducci is stressing cross-training for the unit. Green, 6 feet 5, 306 pounds, is playing right and left tackle.

"It's different," Green said. "I played in the game and got some reps at left, too. It's different techniques, and you're on a different side, but it doesn't matter. I'm comfortable at both. … Whatever coach needs, that's fine.

"It's also a good thing when you've got three tackles that can rotate on both sides. It's good to keep defenses guessing, compared to when it's the same guy all the time."

Though Green said he's willing to come off the bench if it's best for the team, he likes the starting role he has earned. And for now, it seems he'll remain in the starting rotation.

"The offensive line we feel pretty settled in," coach Will Muschamp said. "We thought Kyle Koehne did a nice job at left guard, along with Dan Wenger, who can also play center. Jonotthon Harrison played well at center for us. Matt Patchan and Chaz Green were good for us at the tackle position. Xavier Nixon did a good job at left tackle, and Jon Halapio at guard.

"That would be the mixture of guys that we feel like have a great comfort level with at this point."

Florida Gators' Chaz Green, a former Tampa Catholic star, earns starting role on offensive line 09/07/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 10:40pm]
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