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Douglas S. Looney
September 01, 1980
Nobody stops Defensive End Hugh Green, the best athlete in college football, which means Pitt could be going to the very top
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September 01, 1980

Green Light For The Panthers

Nobody stops Defensive End Hugh Green, the best athlete in college football, which means Pitt could be going to the very top

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At Natchez, where Coach Williams once said, "Hugh doesn't play for North Natchez, he is North Natchez," Green was chided one time during a scrimmage for a hit that wasn't up to standard. With that, Hugh backed up, then tore into the blocking sled with such force that he totaled it.

"I do find," Green muses, "that something like a forearm up alongside the head does seem to settle most folks down."

For all his strength, Green hasn't been big on lifting weights. "White guys lift weights," he says with a laugh. "Black guys play basketball." Only recently has Green started lifting, explaining, "For us to win a national championship, everyone on this team has to do something he ordinarily doesn't do. For me, that's weights. Besides, these pro scouts come in and ask for Hugh's chart, and if Hugh doesn't have a chart, Hugh's in trouble." Green also conditions himself by running, often from dawn to exhaustion in the off-season, but basically he's one of nature's bounties: a great body that stays in great shape naturally.

There are only minor caveats about his football future. Brandt says, "The fact that God didn't make him four inches taller hurts. So in the pros he'll be switched to linebacker, and sometimes there are problems with converting a player." That doesn't prevent Brandt from rating Green as the most talented senior player in the nation. Goldston agrees but says, "I don't think his lack of height is a" negative, the way he plays." For his part, Green admits he sometimes takes his eye off the quarterback and that occasionally his drop-back pass coverage isn't perfect.

Green's prowess dictates that he be something of a team leader, and so he is, leading by example, not with his mouth. Says Sherrill, "You don't see snakes jumping around. They coil up real quietly, then strike. That's Hugh."

Green and Sherrill have a warm, respectful relationship. Early on, Green told his coach that he was going to buy a $13,000 Thunderbird. Sherrill said, "I can't let you do that. The NCAA would be on us so hard. Buy a used car." Green did, a 1976 Cougar for $5,500, and says gratefully, "Everything Coach Sherrill tells me is right. You need somebody older and wiser.... Besides, I think he knows what he's talking about."


"Because when he was a player at Alabama, he bought a Corvette." George Burns never set up a punch line so perfectly.

In addition to his scholarship, Green gets a monthly $130 Social Security check as a result of his mother's death. He divides it thusly: car payment, $129.10; eating out, trips, gasoline, clothes, miscellaneous, 90�.

But if that kind of budgeting seems a bit odd, it's not troublesome for Green. After all, he was never rolling in dollars in Natchez and 90� is, he says, "still more than nothing." Green is very tight with a buck. He painted dorm rooms at Pitt two summers ago for $4 an hour, and a friend says, "He saved about $3.95 of it." Among Green's favorite possessions are his stereo (bought for $90 when he was in junior high), his bike (bought for $40 in high school) and a black and white television (so old that even Green is hazy about when he acquired it, but not the price, $100).

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