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Ex-Benson RB Alex Green surprised, pleasantly, as he goes to Green Bay in third round of NFL draft

by:  ALEX GREEN

Alex Green's fortunes hit an all-time high Friday night.

Green, a former Benson High and University of Hawaii star tailback, was selected 96th (third round) by the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.

He was the seventh running back taken in this year's NFL draft.

While anxiously waiting, Green received a phone call from Packers General Manager Ted Thompson with four minutes remaining on the clock for the No. 96 pick.

'They immediately called me,' Green says. 'He asked, 'How is your day going?' and I said 'Good' and then he said, 'It's about to get better.' And I thanked him for the opportunity. It was definitely a surprise.'

After his brief conversation with Thompson, Green spent a bit of time speaking with the Packers' running back coach, Jerry Fontenot.

Green had the opportunity to share the once-in-a-lifetime moment with family and friends at his Northeast Portland home. This was after spending weeks on end preparing for the day. This process consisted of non-stop workouts, phone calls and flying to visit nearly every major football city in the country to showcase his skills.

The one twist in this whole scenario: He had never visited or officially spoken to the Packers organization as a real possibility. He had reason to believe that the New England Patriots were going to call his name, because Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien flew to Portland to see him work out at Cleveland High on Wednesday, the day before the draft began.

'I knew I had a slight chance of going in the third round, because the Patriots had a couple picks in the third round,' Green said. 'But they selected a different running back (Stevan Ridley, LSU).

'I found out later that the Packers head coach (Mike McCarthy) was at my pro day. And I had spoken to the running backs coach (Fontenot) at the combine.'

Green could hardly find the words to describe the moment of being drafted and the anticipation leading up to it.

'Can't really describe how I feel,' he said. 'I want to thank the great Lord for the many blessings. (Also) my family for the courage, friends for the confidence and the great town of (Portland) for the support.'

Minutes after he received the news, he logged on to his Facebook account and posted a status update that read, 'Green n Yellow… Green Bay.'

Originally the 6-2, 220-pounder was predicted anywhere from the fourth to sixth round by many experts.

At Hawaii, Green helped the Warriors go 10-4 in 2010, including a 7-1 mark in the Western Athletic Conference, with the only loss to Boise State.

During his senior campaign at Hawaii, Green rushed for 1,199 yards and 18 touchdowns in becoming the first UH running back to break the 1,000-yard mark since 1992. He also became the first running back from the school since 2007 to be selected in the NFL draft and the first to be selected by the Packers.

He's a combo back; he also had 27 catches for 363 yards and a touchdown last season.

Expert commentary included this about Green and the immediate impact he provides to the banged-up Packers runner back core: 'Green is a finesse, stretch-zone runner ideally suited for the Packers' zone-running game. He must learn how to hold on to the ball to stay on the field and earn the confidence of his coaches.'

How did he handle the experience, including the nerves, leading up to the draft?

'The NFL draft is nerve-racking,' Green said. 'Not knowing what team or city you will end up in. It's all been a great experience. I was just trying to play it cool and not let it get to me too bad. My mom was more nervous than I was.'

Green said all of the lockout rumors and distractions are finally starting to hit home, as the issues may affect his ability to get on the field and do what he loves most - play football.

'Hadn't thought about it much at first,' he said. 'But now that I'm a part of the league and everything, it's a pretty big distraction. We can't do what we love until something is worked out. I'm just ready to get to work.'

What can Packer fans expect from him?

'I'm coming in confident, but with a lot of respect,' he said. 'I need to learn the ropes and learn from these guys (veteran teammates). And once I get my chance I'm going to lead by example on the field.'

The Packers' first preseason game is Aug. 13 against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland.

'I've never seen a live NFL game,' Green said. 'The first one I see I'll be playing in.'