CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Kendrick Green didn’t hesitate when Illinois head coach Lovie Smith approached him about switching positions, and switching sides of the ball.
“When Coach Smith tells you he thinks you should do something, I’m probably going to do it,” he explained.
The 3-star Peoria High recruit committed to the Illini wtih the intent on playing defensive line. But with a loaded group in front of him, Smith thought Green could make a bigger impact for the Illini on the offensive line.
“He told me what he thought and he knows best so I went with it,” he added.
Turns out the Super Bowl coach was right. Green has taken almost all first team reps at guard during training camp.
“We’ve seen steady progress with him,” head coach Lovie Smith said. “You start drawing him up, he’s athletic, he’s tough. Everything you’re kind of looking for, he’s got it. Now he needs to get experience.”
And that’s the one thing Green doesn’t have. He was one of only three freshmen that redshirted last season. Sitting out was tough, especially with all of his classmates making big contributions on the field.
“Redshirting is definitely very humbling,” Green said. “I came in here thinking I was going to be the guy from the jump. It was definitely a humbling experience, put me back. It made me realize I needed to work harder.”
So that’s what Green did. He started working out with a developmental lifting group and has put on more than 15 pounds of muscle.
“I feel a lot stronger, I feel healthy,” he explained. “When I’m playing football I can breathe this year, last year it was a little different.”
The biggest difference this year will be actually seeing the field on game day. Something he’s worked for more than a year for.
“I think I’m definitely ready now,” he added.