Travis Green made one tackle against Stephen F. Austin and did not play against Iowa State, so his inclusion in the starting lineup came as quite the surprise when Kansas State took the field against Auburn.
But after piling up 13 tackles, including one for a loss, in his past two games, and adding much-needed speed to the Wildcats’ secondary, he now seems like a defensive staple.
How did he make the transition from seldom-used defender to starting free safety so quickly? His answer is simple.
“I had to grow up,” Green said. “I had some shoes to fill ... It was just getting used to it and getting ready to play ball. Just how hungry I am, I was ready to play ball.”
You can tell that much by looking at Green’s hair. The senior and Iowa Western Community College transfer sports a Faux Hawk, and he died it blonde after his breakthrough showing against Auburn.
“I was trying something different,” Green said. “I got called all kinds of stuff -- crazy, blonde, whatever you want to call it. My teammates love me, though, so I don’t take it to heart.”
His teammates certainly like the way he is playing.
Dylan Schellenberg opened the year as K-State’s starting free safety, but the coaching staff decided Green and linebacker Dakorey Johnson were needed to give the defense a boost of athleticism. And the moves worked. The Wildcats held Auburn to 20 points and built a 52-7 lead on Texas-El Paso.
“They bring an attitude and they bring it every day, even at practice,” defensive tackle Travis Britz said. “They are willing to work. They are willing to get better every day. So that really helps us get an attitude that we can do anything.”
At 6-foot-1, 207 pounds, Green has the body of a linebacker, but the versatility of a defensive back. He played both outside linebacker and strong safety in junior college, and he showed potential in six games last season, carding tackles in three straight games and forcing a fumble against Texas.
Now that he fully understands K-State’s defensive system, he is on top of the depth chart.