Listed at 6-foot-5, 295 pounds, Brandon Greene doesn’t look like most tight ends. The Alabama senior, has a good 40 pounds on fellow tight end O.J. Howard.
After spending time at tackle and tight end last season, Greene will make the switch exclusively to tight end this year. While his physique doesn’t exactly match the position, Greene has been a tight end at heart for a while now.
“When I caught my first pass I felt like a tight end,” Greene said. “But other than that, O.J. and everyone else in the tight end group treat me the same, so I feel like a tight end.”
That first catch is Greene’s only reception in an Alabama uniform, but it came at an important time for the Crimson Tide. The 24-yard reception was part of a trick play in Alabama’s overtime win against LSU in 2014. During the play the Tide lined up tackle Cam Robinson out wide to create a distraction, leaving Greene wide open up the middle.
His lone contribution to the stat sheet might have came as a surprise, but Greene figures to be much more than a gimmick for the Tide’s offense this season. During his time at tight end last year, Greene served primarily as a blocking option. However, Alabama head coach Nick Saban said the senior can offer another weapon in the passing game.
“The guy is very athletic,” Saban said earlier this month. “Even though he's not real fast, he's got really good hands. He's somebody you can throw the ball to and he can be hard to tackle.”
While Greene might see more passes come his way, he isn’t quite gunning for Howard’s spot as the Tide’s main receiving threat at tight end. When asked who had the best hands between the two, Greene said the unit doesn’t really get into comparisons or rivalries between each other.
Saban believes the two players’ skill sets bring an element to the Tide’s offense that was missing from last season’s team.
“O.J. Howard always being an outstanding player and someone we could count on but not having a second guy that could be a blocker and kind of a guy that could compliment him,” Saban said. “I don't think that's an issue (this year)... I feel a lot better about the tight end position."
Due to his size, Greene has become the go-to guy for other big men switching to new roles on offense. In the past, the Tide has brought in defensive linemen for its jumbo package near the goal line. While Greene said its fun playing with fellow big men on offense, there isn’t a lot he has to say to a 300-pound blocker in a goal-line formation in terms of advice.
“They don’t question too much about techniques and stuff like that,” Greene said. “Pretty much like bowling balls last year, just running in. That’s pretty much how defensive players think.”
With departed defensive tackles Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson serving as blockers in the jumbo package lasts season, the Tide will need to find a new wrecking ball this year. When asked who he would choose, Green smiled and said, “Shoot, man, it’s hard. I honestly don’t know right now.”
Currently, the big man is too concerned with doing his own damage to defenders this season.
“I think to have a guy like that at that position certainly creates a lot of problems because he's a mismatch player in the C-area,” Saban said. “I know he gives us some problems in practice when he's in there and he's blocking outside backers.”
Tony Tsoukalas writes for the Anniston Star. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org