LINCOLN — The one thing about Nebraska sophomore cornerback Andrew Green, says his younger brother Aaron, is that he never, ever complains.
"Always has his head up," says Aaron, a true freshman Husker running back.
But there was a moment in 2010 when Andrew — who'd already had his share of "nicks and bruises" at NU — was missing more game time because of a partially torn meniscus ligament in his knee. He played with the injury in the Idaho game, saw it swell and throb with pain and realized that he'd be on the shelf even longer. More time on the exercise bike. Less time doing what he loved.
He called his brother Aaron back home in San Antonio a few times. Frustrated. Maybe worried.
You'll keep God first, Aaron told Andrew. You always do.
Whatever God wants for me, Andrew told Aaron, will be done.
Back and forth the conversations went for the two devout Christians. Brothers who weren't necessarily the same — Aaron can be more outgoing, while Andrew hangs back and plays cool — but shared a strong faith. FEAR NOT it reads on Aaron's arm after practice, written in black marker. Keep in God's will, is one of Andrew's favorite sayings.
And Andrew's fortunes began to turn once he rehabbed the knee. Aaron, a coveted recruit, chose Nebraska over Florida State, Texas and California. Andrew got healthy. He took to new coach Corey Raymond's teaching methods. And — because of an injury to starter Alfonzo Dennard — he started his first game last week in a 40-7 win against Tennessee-Chattanooga.
He also gave up a touchdown. He locked up with a UTC receiver in press coverage, "got muscled," according to Raymond, slipped, fell and watched helplessly as the Mocs scored their lone touchdown of the game.
"I'm supposed to be the aggressor on the goal line," Andrew said. "But I lost my footing. He kind of pushed me, I fell and there was nothing I could do."
He ran over to the sideline. With his head up. Sometime after, Aaron found him.
"Humble, humble guy," Aaron said. "Through the good and the bad."
Monday, he went back to work on some of his errors. After practice ended, he and Raymond — along with a few other defensive backs — stayed on the field for a half-hour working on tight coverage techniques. Raymond was the guy running the drill, showing his charges how to smother receivers without losing physical leverage.
Receivers aren't going to get called for pushing off, Raymond said. So you'd better not get in a spot where they can push you.
Andrew Green could get another chance to show his progress this week if he gets a start. And that could come even if Dennard returns to action, depending on what formation Fresno State uses at the outset of the game.
Andrew Green played well enough, it seems, for NU to consider keeping him in the game in nickel packages. Sophomore Ciante Evans could slide to nickel to cover the slot receiver.
It's a big leap from one year ago, when Green's career was stuck in injury-plagued neutral.
"It's been frustrating, but a good time to strengthen me personally," he said. "Just to endure and keep going."
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