Freshman Dominique Green finds place in defense
Last Thursday night, true freshman Dominique Green, who walked on in January before earning a scholarship, picked off Miami quarterback Stephen Morris twice in a nationally-televised game, cementing his place as a fixture in the North Carolina secondary.
Green never doubted he would secure a scholarship and get his chance on defense.
“It was pressure, but I had my mind built determined,” Green, a Laurinburg native, said. “I’m determined to get it. Back at home, I didn’t want to let nobody down so I feel like I’ve got to prove something and show my city that we can make it out of my city.”
When Green returned to his hometown for a high school football game last weekend, fans told him how much they enjoyed hearing Laurinburg mentioned on ESPN.
On Miami’s fourth play from scrimmage, Green read a Morris pass and jumped wide receiver Herb Waters’ route, leaping to make a two-handed grab for his first career interception.
With just under nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Morris was flushed out of the pocket, and again Green intercepted a Morris-to-Waters connection.
“All I could hear was coach (Larry) Fedora’s voice, saying ‘If you can go on the ball, make a play and take that one more inch,’” Green said. “I just took that one inch and said ‘I’ve got to make this play.’”
Senior cornerback Jabari Price said after last Thursday’s game that UNC’s defense is full of potential.
“Guys are coming out of the woodwork,” Price said. “Dominique Green — we just have playmakers all over and when those guys can play loose and free, the sky is the limit for the defense.”
On the drives that followed Green’s interceptions, UNC committed two turnovers of its own, and ultimately lost 27-23. UNC scored only six points on the drives that followed its four interceptions.
The loss, which came down to the game’s final play, made it hard for Green to bask in his breakout collegiate game.
“It’s hard to be happy at that moment because we lost the game, but then again it is a good success and everybody congratulated me and said they were good plays,” Green said. “They gave me my praise but it was just hard so I couldn’t celebrate like I wanted to.”
Green has never shied away from the biggest stage. He intercepted two passes as a senior at Scotland High School in a 4A North Carolina State Championship victory and also grabbed a pick in UNC’s spring game.
“The kid, he has a knack,” Fedora said. “He steps up and makes plays for us. He started doing it for us back in the spring and in fall camp and he’s continued to do it.”
Spring practices let the then-175 pound Green know he needed to bulk up and get faster. He’s now up to 189 pounds and is doing everything he can to keep the weight on.
Along with his two interceptions, Green is eighth on the team in tackles with 25 and has 1.5 tackles for loss. The UNC defense will need Green to make plays against a potent Boston College offense this Saturday, and Fedora is confident Green will continue improving as he gets more experience.
“He’s a true freshman just getting better and better as we go,” Fedora said. “His best ball is all still out in front of him. There’s no doubt about it.”