Earnest Greene III: How Georgia beat out Alabama for the prized All-American OL prospect
Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This entry details the back-and-forth between Alabama and Georgia for prized All-American OT Earnest Greene III out of California.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Earnest Greene III lives out in California. The 18-year-old All-American O-line prospect doesn’t really know how to drive. Or even really care to.
That didn’t stop Nick Saban from trying to teach him how to drive on his official visit in a golf cart. Nobody could ever get the 6-foot-4, 350-pound offensive tackle to muster up the interest in a driving lesson.
Until Saban did.
“We were just in his backyard,” Greene III said. “He took us to the lake. I never knew how to drive. He told me to hop in. I’m going to drive. I asked who’s driving. He said ‘Me’ and I thought it was a little bit of a joke but he told me ‘You are going to learn today’ and I got in. He taught me how to drive and navigate all the way through the woods in the trees and stuff. It was a pretty cool experience.”
“Not a lot of people can say they did that.”
Alabama tried to sign him during the early period. Ohio State tried. Texas tried.
No school could get him to sign with them during the early period.
Until Eddie Gordon, Matt Luke and Kirby Smart did.
Pamela Pace-Greene, his mother, grew up in Alabama. She is a die-hard Alabama fan.
“Georgia has flipped me,” she said. “Go ‘Dawgs.”
She’s been thinking about what to do with all of her Alabama gear.
“So we are going to have a bit of a ceremony when we return home,” she said. “I have this crimson-colored Rubbermaid storage container. We are going to put it away like in a time capsule and then three and a half or four years from now when he is getting ready to leave UGA I will make a decision. I will then decide if I am then a permanent UGA fan or I can take my Alabama stuff out again.”
“I can’t part with it. I can’t take it to Goodwill. We have such good memories and good times with rooting for and cheering for and following Alabama. Whenever Georgia and Alabama would play even when Earnest was a baby his father and I have been straight down that middle. A house divided.”
Not anymore. Not tonight.
Earnest Greene Jr., who grew up in Savannah, is a life-long Bulldog fan. The 6-foot-8 Georgia native played for Savannah High, then Savannah State and on to NFL stops with the San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was a part of two Super Bowl teams in 1994 and 1995 before retiring from football after winding down his career in the Arena League in 2001.
When Greene was out in San Diego for his first season with the Chargers, he met a young lady from Alabama. Pace-Greene was a student at San Diego State. That would become the woman he would marry.
The story here could not be any more fitting with the national championship on the line in Indianapolis tonight.
This was an All-American from California. His Mom grew up and Rolled Tide in Alabama. His father grew up in Georgia and dreamed of being a ‘Dawg.
‘Tis a very small world sometimes.
“It is crazy and ironic,” Greene III said. “How it played out. I knew it all growing but I would just say it is ironic the way it all played out. Coming down to the last couple of schools and ironically it was them being those last two schools. So it was pretty cool. I would just say there is no bad blood or anything. They just wanted me to do what is best for me.”
“I knew I was going to have to make a decision for me and not my family.”
He didn’t want to get his parents too involved in it, but the UGA early enrollee made his father so happy.
“I was like ‘Woo wee’ and I jumped in the house,” Greene Jr. said. “I started screaming in the house.”
The best part, his mother said, was the son chose to follow his father’s dream all on his own. Without his father’s weighty influence on him.
“It just seems so full circle,” she said. “His father cried real tears and Earnest did not let us know he was going to Georgia until he was ready to sign.”
Why did Earnest Greene III choose Georgia?
HIs recruiting story really could be framed up within the elements of a football game.
Ohio State started off hot in the first quarter. That’s because of how well former Bosco OL Wyatt Davis flourished in Columbus.
“Then Georgia took over like going into halftime,” he said. “Then Texas came out at halftime. Then Georgia and Texas were there going into the end of the third quarter. Then it was ‘Bama coming out in the fourth quarter. It just came down to a two-point conversion to win the game.”
Greene visited Alabama a couple of times late in his process. Driving lessons included. He even wound up sitting in the Alabama section at the SEC Championship Game. He admits that it was really just a chance to get some really good seats for that game.
Greene was in North Carolina for the Clemson game. He was at UGA for his official visit for the South Carolina game.
“When my husband and I had been on all the visits and we were reflecting back we just came back to how Earnest was on that Georgia visit,” his mother said. “He was smiling. He was happy. That seemed like the best fit for him. We are just proud and happy for him knowing he is going to be playing there. That coaching staff is amazing.”
There was a point when his parents it was going to be Alabama. What was the big reason he chose Georgia?
“Yeah well, it came down to people knowing how to develop offensive lineman as far as like myself,” Greene III said. “You look at Georgia when they offered me they had Isaiah Wilson and obviously Andrew Thomas go first round in the exact same year. You look at the performance they just put on against Michigan.”
“That was one of, if not the best, edge-rushing tandem in the country and they held them to zero if not any pressures really. So it was pretty cool to look at the development in the O-line room and I like the offense they run. There is a lot of running the ball and imposing their will but then they let you, the offensive linemen, get in space and show off their athleticism a little bit.”
Other schools were hot and cold with Greene. Maybe even a little tardy to the party. The Bulldogs were consistently strong in their efforts. Gordon was a constant.
“Very personal and very genuine conversation,” his father said. “Not about football a lot of times. So that really earned Earnest’s trust that way.”
So when the late pushes came, the Bulldogs were basically prioritizing him the same way they had all along.
His father also just described it as a feeling. He had shared some sage advice with his son.
“I always told him when you go to pick a school to go where it makes you happy,” Earnest Greene Jr., said. “Go where you feel happy. If you are there and playing, but you are not happy then you are not going to play your best ball. It didn’t matter what I said or what all the coaches said. He had to go to the place that made him happy and I stood firm on that.”
The nation’s No. 40 overall prospect (247Sports Composite) just saw himself at Georgia, too.
“Even when you look around in the O-line room you just look around and see that everybody really looks like you,” Greene III said. “Everybody is 320-pounds plus. Everybody can still move. Some O-line rooms you walk in and then everybody doesn’t look like you. It was just the comfort level, the relationships and the family atmosphere that I felt and everything. It just really kept coming back to how I liked to show off my athleticism a little bit in the offense and they believe in the run game, they get their guys outside and make some plays in space.”
“All that stuff was on my mind and I kept coming back to it.”
It was a tough decision that week in December. The first day of the early period came on December 15. He had finals that week and a lot of homework and projects. He sat down to think, then took a nap and prayed about it.
“Then I just felt like I was a ‘Dawg,” Greene III said.
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Earnest Greene III on the national championship game
Greene III gave a very savvy answer earlier last week about the national championship game. Coy would be a good word to describe it. A diplomat or ambassador to a hostile nation would be proud of his efforts.
With the word out now, he was able to share his true read on the game.
“All I am going to say is it is hard to beat a good team twice,” Greene III said. “I don’t know if it is going to get done but I know it is really hard to do that.”
His father calls him “The Beast.” His mother still calls him her “Sweet Boy” and he showed a genuine sign of that human kindness at the end of the All-American Game.
Covid-19 safety protocols didn’t allow the players to link up with the annual Alamodome crowd at midfield.
So the players came to the edge of the stands and signed. Greene III took selfies. He signed shirts and clothes and programs and tickets. He lost track of his helmet and had to go track in down from a teammate who picked up the wrong one.
When he did, a new section of the crowd pleaded for him to sign their stuff, too.
Security basically had to drag him away.
“I’m not going to get into the deep story but I had a personal situation where I asked Kobe [Bryant] for a picture and he kind of blew me off so I always told myself I was never going to make anybody else feel like that so I have to go ahead and take care of what I have got to take care of.”
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