WEST LAFAYETTE – When Kevin Green was going through a redshirt year for Purdue in 2006, brother Donte Adams told him to stay strong and he’d play when it was time.
When Green spent last spring as the No. 1 linebacker, Adams told him just because he was the man didn’t mean he’d always be.
With Green in the same spot now, Adams is telling him to focus and listen to the coaches.
Seems Adams always knows the right thing to say to ease Green’s frustrations and explain the coaches’ critiques.
It’s a unique dynamic. Adams, 15 years older than Green, has become a father figure and coached Green at North Chicago High School.
That relationship prepared Green to line up as Purdue’s starting middle linebacker today in the season opener against Northern Colorado at Ross-Ade Stadium.
“He’s the one who kept me motivated and gave me the intensity and the knack for the game I have,” Green said. “He’s been a great role model for me, and I really look up to him. I’m blessed to have him.”
Adams and Green made a pact when Green started high school. Adams promised to help Green play football in college and become the first person in his immediate family to attend a four-year university, as long as Green promised to tell Adams when to back off.
He hasn’t yet.
In high school and last summer when Green was home, Adams urged Green out of bed to train. There were moments Green wouldn’t oblige, but Adams always had a comeback: someone else was working.
This summer, he used specific examples. Adams heard about Purdue incoming freshmen Dwayne Beckford and Chris Carlino and how they were poised to move into the middle linebacker spot. So whenever Green fussed about working out, Adams countered: “You’re going to blink and the true freshman is going to be in your spot, and you’re going to be sitting on the bench and whose fault is it going to be?”
“We have some real good conversations,” Adams said. “Sometimes, it’s something he don’t want to hear. Sometimes, it’s something he needs to hear. … He knows where I’m coming from. I’m going to be firm with him. I’m not going to baby him. I’m going to tell him the truth. We’ve got a real good relationship.”
When Green was born, Adams accepted the role of father figure. Green’s dad hasn’t been around much, and Adams wanted to make sure Green followed the right path. Football helped the two bond.
Adams, a former middle linebacker, was Green’s defensive coordinator, which helps when they talk at least three times a week. Adams is able to act as Purdue defensive coordinator Brock Spack’s translator.
The middle linebacker spot seems to be Green’s to lose, but he must hold on tightly. Spack is disappointed that Green doesn’t practice harder and with more intensity.
Green, an all-state linebacker in high school, acknowledges he needs to be more consistent in practice. If he doesn’t, Green’s playing time could suffer.
Spack said Green has dramatically improved in the last eight months, is smart and has the tools to be a good player. But with depth thin at linebacker, Green has to mature.
“It would be nice if Kevin would answer the bell, come out of the corner swinging,” coach Joe Tiller said. “He could really help us if he could emerge as a big-time, full-time player. He’s the type of guy who has had his moments, but from a consistency point of view, he hasn’t been there yet. That’s what we’re looking for from him.”