J. Green, Spurrier together again

Ex-Florida receiver hopes for big year with Redskins

July 25, 2002|By Warner Hessler | Warner Hessler,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CARLISLE, Pa. - Quick, name a great NFL quarterback who came out of the University of Florida in the past 12 years. Or a great receiver. Or a great running back.

OK, take your time and think about it. Still can't do it? Those are some of the questions critics have posed about former Florida coach Steve Spurrier for years. They wonder why he annually fielded one of the most explosive offenses in college football but never turned out a great pro player at the so-called skill positions.

Washington Redskins receiver Jacquez Green, who was the go-to guy on two of Spurrier's high-powered attacks, has often asked himself the same questions and, in every case, the answer is the same. It was the system.

It was Spurrier's daring, go-for-broke system that allowed him to use his speed to fly past safeties for deep passes and his quickness to slice between cornerbacks and safeties on deep post and slant routes. It was Spurrier's system that made him a finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, which annually goes to the nation's top receiver, in 1996. It was Spurrier's system that encouraged the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to make him the 34th selection in the 1998 draft.

And it was the Bucs' system that turned him into another hot shot from Florida who couldn't play at a high level in the NFL.

"Some people may think that we [former Florida stars] don't belong in the league," Green said after yesterday morning's practice, "but so much of it is the system and how you are used. Coach Spurrier allowed me to do the things I do well. I wasn't used very well by the Bucs. I wasn't used on things I was good at."

Reunited with Spurrier in Washington as a free agent this spring, Green is also becoming reacquainted with another old friend, a playbook that has him lining up wide on some plays, in the slot on others, and running slant, deep post and "go" routes. Anything to put him in a position to make the kind of big plays that were his trademark in college.

Though it's still a bit too early in the preseason to get a line on Spurrier's plans for the regular season, it appears Green is going to be the go-to guy again in an offense designed to spread the ball around. Of the three projected starting receivers, which includes Rod Gardner and Kevin Lockett, Green is the only one with the speed to be a consistent deep threat. And, as anyone who has studied Spurrier's offense knows, the long pass is his favorite.

With Spurrier bringing his bag of tricks with him from Florida, Green believes he can have a breakout year.

"I firmly believe I can get my career back to where I would like for it to be," Green said. "This is a fresh start for me, and I can't wait to get going."

NOTES: Sage Rosenfels and Danny Wuerffel have made the occasional nice throw and appear about even. Shane Matthews has struggled, overthrowing passes even when the defense isn't on the field. ... First-round draft pick Patrick Ramsey remains a holdout and appears several days, at least, from signing. ... Kicker Brett Conway reported to camp after missing the opening practice with a viral infection.

Warner Hessler is a reporter for the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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