TALLAHASSEE — He marked his 22nd birthday Saturday with two football practices and some banana pudding at FSU's training table. Celebration? The dude they call "Pops" was pooped.
"We're always at camp every year" on Aug. 9, fifth-year senior receiver Christian Green said. "So it's nothing new."
But it's fitting. Green's recent birthday observances have become reflective of his college career: Low-key and workmanlike. Each year it seems, a bulk of the passes and hoopla have landed in the hands of other 'Noles receivers.
Pops presses on, toiling and hoping for his own breakthrough — heck, his first collegiate TD catch — even as the hourglass empties on his time in Tallahassee.
"There are things I wish could've happened in the past, but you can't go back and harp on that," said Green, nearly a half-decade removed from his previous life as a five-star Tampa Catholic recruit. "You've got to focus on what's going on now. Everything happens for a reason."
Maybe, just maybe, the best is yet to happen. Perhaps all the fits and starts, all the flashes of promise and ebbs of production, are preludes to a 2014 emergence.
"He's very well-polished on his routes," said fourth-year senior Rashad Greene, FSU's top returning receiver. "He's strong, he's physical, so I definitely expect big things out of Christian this year."
In a triumvirate of prolific receivers last season— Greene, Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw all had more than 50 catches — Green (13 catches, 157 yards) was the fourth wheel. But Benjamin and Shaw now are in NFL camps. And while freshmen Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph have arrived with ranginess and recruiting stars, the opportunity exists for Green to crack the rotation.
"When somebody's hot, we're gonna eventually ride with the hot hand," co-offensive coordinator (and former 'Noles All-American receiver) Lawrence Dawsey said. "Like in basketball, we're gonna feed the guy that's hot. … Me personally, I have confidence in all nine guys that we've got on scholarship."
For Green, the issue has been less about his regression than the rise of others.
After a promising redshirt freshman season — his 26 catches included seven for 77 yards in a loss at Clemson — he caught three passes in all of 2012, as Greene blossomed. Similarly, he seemed befallen by a numbers game in last autumn's national title run.
"He got hurt (shoulder injury) his freshman year when he came in, but he redshirted then he had a good year," Dawsey said.
"You've got a Kelvin Benjamin, you've got so many guys that you were getting in there. He was getting reps, but you've only got one ball, and that's the only thing he's lacking."
What he hasn't lacked is respect. To be sure, Green, closing in on a social science degree, is an admired elder statesman. Validating his nickname is his tenure, a demeanor bereft of self-pity, and a thickening beard he brandished at the team's media day Sunday.
"I mean, you just look at him, he looks old," Greene joked. "My facial hair is nice and soft, and his looks rough. We just like to tease him and mess with him like that, but he definitely looks older than he is."
Pops is bent on improving with age.
"He's very well-polished on his routes," said Greene, the lone wideout on the roster with a TD catch. "He's strong, he's physical, so I definitely expect big things out of Christian this year."