POCATELLO — The second middle linebacker spot next to Kody Graves has been a revolving door all year for the Idaho State Bengals. In Saturday’s game against Montana, Darian Green became the third player to start there in five games. He led the Bengals with 10 tackles as a rare bright spot in a blowout loss to the Grizzlies. The Idaho State Journal caught up with Green to talk his debut and how the UMass transfer ended up at Idaho State
Idaho State Journal: What was it like going in and making your first start in the atmosphere that was at Montana’s Washington-Grizzly Stadium?
Darian Green: It was a great place to play football. It was fun. It was something I prepared for, so I wasn’t really nervous. I knew my teammates, they were going to help if I had any questions or anything. I knew they were going to ball, they were going to play their heart out every play. I prayed to God and asked him, like, just let me do the best I can. He helped me with everything, and I just felt comfortable. We could have done better, but I felt like we were playing pretty good until the second half.
ISJ: There’s been a lot of turnover at that spot already. How did you handle finally getting a chance to play?
DG: You have to have that next-man-up mentality. When somebody goes down, you better know your stuff, because you’re the next guy up. You have to be ready at all times no matter what’s happening. Anything can happen at any time.
I wasn’t really necessarily wanting to start, but I just wanted to be able to contribute to the team and everything. It was kind of difficult at times, not getting in, but at the end of the day, you have to be a team player. You have to work for the team. The people ahead of me, I feel like they deserve everything that they had. They’re some great players. The mindset at the time was, I just have to wait my turn. Everybody was telling me, like, your time is going to come, you just have wait it out.
ISJ: How would you describe yourself as a player?
DG: I feel like I’m more quick than fast. I can get from point A to point B really well. I feel like I have good instincts on the field, plus watching film. If you put those two together, that’s unbeatable. I just feel like I’m a great all-around linebacker. I’m a little undersized, but I just play with that as a chip on my shoulder and just go all out on every play.
ISJ: How did you first get recruited by UMass?
DG: They were recruiting like a receiver at my school, and then they were looking at film, looking at his Hudl, and then my Hudl popped up. They told me they ended up clicking on it and looking at it and liked my film, so they came and started talking to me, then eventually they offered me. They were the first ones to give me a chance, so I had a lot of respect for them. Even though I also got the offer (to Idaho State), and my cousin was here last year, (former ISU defensive back) Trey Green. I wanted to come here, but I was talking to my family about it, and they were all like, you have to go. Everybody was pushing me (towards UMass), so that’s why I went there.
ISJ: You spent a year at UMass. What was that like?
DG: It was fun, but I felt like we weren’t a family that much at times. Those are still my brothers and everything, I still talk to them, but these are my brothers now. The environment was just different. It wasn’t as close, as much of a family as it is here.
ISJ: How much did you play there?
DG: I played the first game, and then the rest of the year I was just on special teams, so I burnt my redshirt just on special teams.
ISJ: Was it difficult losing that year from just playing special teams?
DG: Everything happens for a reason, God makes things happen for a reason. But at the time, I was a little angry that I didn’t get the redshirt, because I didn’t want to spend a year just running down on, like, five plays a game, if that. But it was a good experience. I got to play against teams like Georgia, Boston College, played against some big Power 5 schools, so that was something that was pretty amazing.
ISJ: When did you know you wanted to leave UMass?
DG: Once we got the new coaching staff. Nothing against them, but I just felt like it wasn’t the place for me. Also, being that far from home (Green is from Cerritos, California), I wanted to go somewhere where my family didn’t have to spend as much money to come see me. They can just drive and be close to my games here, so that was a big thing too, my family. And then I wanted to play with my cousin too.
ISJ: Did you play with Trey much as kids?
DG: As kids, I played with him in a tournament, where I came to his team and played with him, but I’ve never been on the same team as him, because we lived like 45 minutes apart. But that was like a dream growing up, we always wanted to play together.
ISJ: Other than the previous offer and wanting to play with Trey, why did you want to come to Idaho State when you transferred?
DG: I just felt like (defensive coordinator Roger Cooper), when I talked to him, I could hear that he actually cared for me. And that he actually had a relationship with his players. Everybody was telling me, he’s a good person and a good coach. He was just somebody that I really wanted to play for. In my whole college career, this is my third linebackers coach. I feel like he’s the one that, not showed me the most love, but had the most love for his players. In college they usually tell you, you’re not going to get close to your coach because they could change every year, but coach Coop, I just feel like that’s someone I can go to and talk to if I have any problem.
ISJ: What have you thought of the defense’s overall performance this year, and how do you bounce back after the Montana game?
DG: It’s really been nothing but positives, besides a few mistakes here and there. Everything happens, you’re always going to have the highs and the lows, it’s how you bounce back from them. Even though we lost to Montana, we just have to bounce back. We can’t let it hold us back. We can’t come out with a sad mentality because we lost. That game’s over. We have to put that past us and we just have to play football.