Cotey: Tampa Catholic High lineman Chaz Green's talent has everyone talking

TAMPA — Halfway through the highlight film — the arrow points him out — the ball is snapped and Tampa Catholic High School's big No. 75 is on the move.

He takes on a double team, and dismisses it as if the players were traffic cones.

Head up, legs churning, hips swiveling, he searches out the linebacker and finds his target, then manhandles him.

Running back Hank McCloud flies by for a big gain.

There's more of Chaz Green's highlight film, if you want to keep watching.

"You can turn it off,'' says the college football recruiter, who has seen enough.

Bob Henriquez laughs when sharing the story. It's the same spot in the video, every time, with awed recruiters seeing what the Tampa Catholic coach sees every day.

"Chaz Green is going to be an animal,'' he says. "His potential is limitless."

Green is, arguably, Tampa Bay's hottest, most sought after high school football recruit.

How did he get here?

Quickly.

He didn't strap on pads for the first time until he was a sophomore.

As a junior, an injury limited him to a handful of games.

He got his first college offer after just one session of his first camp.

Now he has more than 30, rendering his highlight video moot.

He is a rocket ship.

"It's been crazy, out of nowhere,'' Green said. "It's been … shocking, I would say."

Green is 6 feet 6, 300 pounds and this year's "It" guy in area high school football.

Like Plant's Aaron Murray in 2007 and Orson Charles in 2008, he has exploded onto the prep scene in a big way, collecting offers like pancake blocks.

Florida and Notre Dame offered him scholarships within hours of each other last fall. Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll stopped by to say hi during math class.

Not bad for a kid who grew up wanting to be Shaquille O'Neal, and spent his youth as an elite team hoops product.

"I stopped growing and everyone else in the post was like 6-10,'' Green said. "I figured it was time to find another sport.''

He was talked into football.

As a Palm Harbor University junior-to-be, he picked up his first offer from USF after one session at its Big Man camp.

The first of many, coach Mike Simmonds told him.

But Green wondered if he was going to get the exposure, the training, the fine-tuning he needed if he stayed at PHU, a soccer school with a football program that had never had a winning season at that point.

Across the bay, good friend and basketball teammate Christian Green was becoming one of the state's top recruits at Tampa Catholic.

"I wondered if being there could do the same for me,'' said Chaz Green, who still lives in Palm Harbor.

In a day when players transferring from school to school receives a lot of scrutiny, Green transferred in 2008, virtually unnoticed.

Now you can't miss him, as he has quickly grown into the biggest fish in Tampa Bay's well-stocked talent pool.

"I think he was motivated because he knew he had all this potential,'' Henriquez said. "It helps having another national recruit on the team, and we went late into the playoffs last year. And we sent out a lot of film, to start the buzz.''

Henriquez, who coaches the offensive linemen, saw Green as a tackle. He was nimble, the result of his basketball days, and would eventually grow out of being the 260-pound tight end he was at PHU.

"Physically, my first reaction was he is going to play on Sundays in the NFL; he had that look,'' Henriquez said. "I remember the first time Doug Williams (Bucs coordinator of pro scouting who has a son on the Crusaders team) saw him, he said, 'Who's that kid? That's what we're looking for … now.' ''

Like Charles did last year at Plant before landing at Georgia after his player of the year season, Green has taken advantage of his increased exposure by working himself into a strong, technically gifted specimen.

He may play in a smaller classification against smaller opponents, but has dominated at camps against the country's best, skyrocketing up recruiting lists. He is now regarded as one of the state's top offensive linemen.

"I knew he'd be big-time one day,'' said Christian Green, the Crusaders quarterback and no relation. "I knew the kind of work he puts in. So I'm not surprised.''

"You know, everything just started clicking for him,'' Henriquez said. "He has an incredible work ethic, he never misses a workout. The guy just decided to make football a priority.''

His college future already secure, Green hopes to choose after visits to Ohio State and Southern Cal. He is leaning toward Florida at the moment and wouldn't mind getting the decision out of the way so he can focus on his senior year.

He still misses basketball from time to time.

Then his cell phone rings, and it's another football coach from another college, and it's hard to miss it too much.

John Cotey can be reached at johncotey@gmail.com

Cotey: Tampa Catholic High lineman Chaz Green's talent has everyone talking 07/30/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 30, 2009 11:25pm]

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