Greene nabs DI Male Athlete of the Year award


What’s left to say about Shonn Greene?

By now, everyone knows about his rise from obscurity to domination of Big Ten defenses. Everyone knows the way he treats his teammates and acts off the field. Everyone knows his statistics and awards — 307 attempts, 1,850 yards, 20 touchdowns, Doak Walker Award, MVP of the Big Ten, MVP of the Outback Bowl.

In fact, this story has been so endlessly discussed and dissected that it’s beginning to become less of an accomplishment. But when it came time to give out The Daily Iowan’s award for Male Athlete of the Year, the options were Shonn Greene and everyone else.

Perhaps one of the best — and relatively untold — stories regarding Greene (who couldn’t be reached for this story) came when the Hawkeyes went to Tampa, Fla., for the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1. A couple of days before the most important game of his life, the 5-11, 227-pound running back decided to forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft — only he didn’t tell anyone except his family, not even head coach Kirk Ferentz.

Instead of partying in Tampa’s Channelside district all week or shirking his responsibilities as Iowa’s starting running back, Greene prepared for the game as he had for the 12 previous ones. He didn’t let the distractions of the NFL and a future filled with financial security cloud what was really important — a bowl victory and gaining more than 100 yards for the 13th consecutive contest.

Greene finished the game with 121 yards on 29 carries and three touchdowns.

“I didn’t know,” Ferentz said after the bowl game about the running back’s decision to go to the NFL. “I think that’s an even bigger credit to him, in that he went about his business and his work the way he should. He’s never showed any signs [that he was going to the NFL]. … I think that’s something to be admired.

“He’s going to be an extremely valuable … asset to any team that’s smart enough to take him next year.”

On April 26, that team became the New York Jets, who traded up 11 spots to take Greene in the third round of the NFL draft.

“I think I can do a lot of things, but most of all, I think I’m good between the tackles and can get that tough yardage,” Greene said in a press conference with the New York media shortly after being drafted. “I’m just going to move the chains.”

Anyone who watched Greene’s film from Wisconsin or Purdue — or any game for that matter — can see he’s an NFL talent. For Ferentz, it wasn’t one thing that made Greene great; it was the whole package.

“Again, what can I say about Shonn’s performance week-in, week-out?,” Ferentz said after the bowl game. “He’s been the same guy each and every week. … I’m probably prouder of the way he’s handled his recognition, his acclaim, which has been well-deserved. He’s been an exemplary team member. … It’s a great story.”

So maybe the story has been told too many times, maybe it’s diminished what Greene achieved in 2008 and on the first day in 2009, maybe people are tired of hearing about it. Regardless, no one can argue that when fans look back on this year, one athlete will come to mind: Shonn Greene.

“This is as good as it gets,” Greene said after the bowl game. “Winning a bowl game, 100 yards every game, winning the Doak Walker Award, MVP of the Big Ten. I mean, I don’t think you can do any better than that.”

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