By Matt Sugam
When Khaseem Greene went to grab lunch with his uncle shortly after being named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, the two began reflecting on his career at Rutgers.
They spoke of how the fans have accepted and love him. How as one of the best defensive player in the Rutgers’ 143 year history, he helped lead Rutgers to a share of the Big East Title for the first time in school history.
His accomplishments – which include fifth all-time in school history in tackles with 376 – will have him go down in the annals as one of the best players to ever put on a Rutgers uniform.
“I haven’t really thought in depth about it,” Greene said of his legacy. “But just – a guy like Brian Leonard who forever in New Jersey is known as a hero and a legend. Ray Rice. Those type of guys. Just to be mentioned around those names is going to be something that’s going to be amazing for me.”
Equally as mesmerizing was Greene’s season.
Coming off a gruesome ankle injury suffered in the Pinstripe Bowl last season, Greene came back for his senior season looking to prove he was the same player pre-injury.
But he wasn’t. He was better.
“I actually had a better season in my eyes than what I had last year and what I had expected,” Greene – who had 125 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two interceptions – said. “I was able to make more plays this year whether it be forced fumbles, got my hand on the ball twice, a lot more sacks…It shows that the injury made me stronger – made me better as a person.”
And apparently, a better player.
Switching from safety to weak side linebacker before last season, Greene shared the award with Cincinnati defensive tackle Derrick Wolfe. Now he has the award all to himself.
“It just feels different form last year. It just feels like it’s flat out mine. Like I said, I got some help from my guys up front and my DBs [defensive backs], but for it just to not have a co on the front of it is definitely a better feeling than last year,” Greene said. “It just feels a lot different and a lot better than it did last year.”
It also cements Greene’s legacy at Rutgers. He’s just the second player – the other being Virginia Tech defensive end Corey Moore in 1998 and 1999 – to win Big East Defensive Player of the Year back-to-back years.
In turn, the Elizabeth, NJ native will go down as one of the best to ever player on the banks.
“Some of the guys have said that I might be recognized as one of the greats to play at our school,” Greene said. “And just for somebody to say that to me is just humbling and it makes me smile inside.”
But really, it’s an accomplishment that will mean more to the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder as the years go on.
“It’s just something I can look back on and smile at years down the line when I can look back at what I accomplished and the road of where I got to that point in life and the road that I went through to get to where I’m at,” Greene said. “And down the road it’s going to make me smile to know everything I went thorugh is all worth it. ”