NIU Greens remain Huskies through and through
During his junior season at Oak Park-River Forest, Daniel Green (51) sacked Downers Grove North quarterback Joseph Honn during the Huskies’ homecoming game. | File PHOTO—Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 28, 2013 2:46PM
DE KALB — As children, Daniel and David Green played flag football together.
Born 22 months apart to their mother Linda, she remembers what a co-worker said when she saw David, the youngest of the two, in a t-shirt and helmet many years ago.
“She said, ‘Oh my God, look at that giant,” Linda Green said. “My youngest son was always the biggest boy.’”
David may have been the biggest, but like most younger siblings, he always wanted to be just like his older brother. On Jan. 1, the two Oak Park-River Forest graduates will wear the same color uniform, that of the Northern Illinois Huskies when they play Florida State in the Discover Orange Bowl in Miami.
“At this point in our lives it’s the highest point,” David Green said. “Growing up playing football, we dreamed about playing on the same team.”
To live that dream, the Green brothers each had to take a route that was anything but linear.
Daniel was a 6-foot, 195-pound defensive end coming out of OPRF in 2008. Ignored by colleges, he enrolled at Roosevelt University, which did not have a football team. Realizing he missed the sport, he tried out for a roster spot at NIU in 2009. He beat out 80 other players, receiving a walk-on offer. He enrolled in time for spring practice in 2010.
“It taught me I can play with the big boys,” said Daniel Green, who is studying marketing. “It showed me how much I love being involved and to be dedicated to something other than yourself.”
Over two years, he transformed his body from undersized to lionized, becoming a 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive tackle for the Huskies. As a senior this season, Green played in five games, totaling two tackles for loss and a half-sack. He also contributed on kickoff returns.
As Linda Green’s co-worker observed, David Green was always a giant. A 6-foot-3, 290-pound run-stuffing nose tackle for OPRF, Green graduated in 2010 and spent that fall at Triton College. Invited to a try out at Northern Illinois, he was soon packing his bags for DeKalb.
“I had a chance to walk on (in 2011),” said David Green, who redshirted this season. “The rest is history.”
Certainly for the Green family. Starting at 7 years old, David played tackle football for the Oak Park YMCA, while Daniel never did. In high school, Daniel was on the varsity his junior and senior years when David was a freshman and sophomore. David was never called up while Daniel was on the team.
Now they are both Huskies. They train together, eat together, study together. David admits his brother can outlift him, a frequent topic around the football program.
“Coaches and players always ask that,” said David Green, who is studying sociology. “We look at ourselves and say we are equal. We feed off each other. When he puts up weight, I try and put up the same amount.”
Added Daniel Green: “I know he’s going to be a way better player than I. I tell him to stay focused and work hard. I want to leave this legacy.”
Their father, Dan Green, and mother Linda, have booked flights to Miami and will attend the game. Linda Green is gathering materials for a scrapbook. It will need to be a big folder, as the Greens have much to celebrate.
Next month promises to a New Year’s Day they will never forget.
“I want this to be something (Daniel and David) can hold onto. Tell their kids we were there,” Linda Green said. “What more could you ask for?”