Union’s A.J. Green Among the Nation’s Best

By Mike Moguin
GTR Sports Writer

Mike Moguin photo
READY TO RUN: A.J. Green is expected to lead the Union running attack this season.

A.J. Green is a viable part of Union’s ground game within its offensive attack.  
He is ranked No. 2 on the list of the top 100 players in the annual Pigskin Preview by VYPE Oklahoma Magazine.
The publication identifies Green, who also plays cornerback on defense, as being quick, elusive, fast and powerful and makes him a lethal combination.
“I think it’s really spot on,” Green said. “My game is mainly focused on being able to make fast cuts and be able to make somebody miss in the open field. 
“It’s actually really an honor,” he added. 
Green (5-11, 190, senior) made a verbal commitment to Arkansas in June.
The Razorbacks are undergoing a coaching transition with Sam Pittman taking over the reins, and the staff made an impression on Green. 
“They just gave me a nice vibe,” he said. “So I really built a connection with them. It was just surreal what I felt when I talked to them. It’s a blessing for them to want me there. I feel like they are starting to build something big.”
Green chose Arkansas over OU, OSU, Michigan, Texas Tech, South Carolina and LSU. 
Former teammate and offensive lineman Ricky Stromberg is already at Arkansas and Green looks forward to joining him next year. 
“I want to run by his big self a couple more times,” Green said laughing.
But for now, the focus is on 2020, in which the COVID-19 pandemic is a big issue at Union like elsewhere.
“It’s been crazy, but we’re all getting through it. It’s new to everybody obviously,” Green said. “I’m not going to lie. Sometimes it gets hard to breathe out here with it being super hot and we have our masks and helmets on. We wear them to make sure nobody’s passing it around. It’s not that bad because nobody is getting sick.”
The Redskins have face shields that have the Union logo, which makes it cool and Green agrees. 
NFL pros LaDainian Tomlinson, Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson are among Green’s favorite running backs.
“I try to take things they do in their game and add those in mine,” he said.
This year the Union offense will feature Green, quarterback Rovaughn Banks (5-11, 195, junior), and receivers Makhai Belt (5-9, 150, junior) and Shea Dan (6-4, 175, senior).
“Playing around other skill players gives me people to rely on,” Green said.  “If I’m tired, I know we can go to them for a big play if we need it. Even if they’re (the opponent) stopping our running game, we know we can get a pass off. I say all of those guys know how to work one-on-one combos.”
Another new element for Union this season is the addition of Dub Maddox to the coaching staff as offensive coordinator. Maddox was the head coach at Victory Christian the past two years and was on the Jenks staff prior to that. 
“He’s bringing a whole new scheme to our offense,” Green said of Maddox. “I think this will open up a lot of things for us. We have a whole bunch of different things we can do now on offense and I think we’ll be real successful with it and the way he runs it.”
Union opened the season Aug. 28 at Bixby, the defending Class 6AII state champion. Because of the reconstruction taking place at their stadium, the Redskins only have three home games this season and will be on the road throughout September. They will play rivals Broken Arrow (Sept. 4), Jenks (Sept. 11 at Chapman Stadium at TU) and Owasso (Sept. 25). The first home game is Oct. 2 against Putnam City. 
Last year was not a season to whi the Union team is accustomed. The program is used to either going unbeaten with a state title or being a runner-up and having no more than two losses on its record. But in 2019, Union was 6-5.  Green and company intend to change that this year. 
“It was hard for us to go through last season,” he said. “We definitely got better in the first round of the playoffs. We felt like we could have won that game and go far. But for the whole team and the coaches, that has been the whole motivation for us this summer. That’s not Union. We don’t usually go 6-5. So we’re definitely going to improve on that.”
The game Green is referring to was a loss to Broken Arrow in the first round. 
With only three home games and new stands under construction on the west side of the stadium, Union will only have two sections of bleachers — the east and the north to play in front of fans. 
Green believes Broken Arrow and Jenks to be the toughest foes on the schedule and that the Union team is talented enough to win every game.

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