Bryan Greene provides veteran presence to LHU football receiving corps
By SAM KUPERMAN
For The Express
When watching Lock Haven University football training camp, the amount of new faces on the field is quite evident. The Bald Eagles bring back some highly talented players, but did lose 12 starters from the 2018 squad. One of those returning starters is wide receiver Bryan Greene, who hails from Milesburg and looks to build upon a campaign that brought him PSAC East All-Second Team honors.
Greene, who graduated from Bald Eagle Area High School, caught 41 passes for 578 yards and three touchdowns, second on the team in both categories. He also carried the ball 19 times for 98 yards, as Lock Haven found ways to creatively utilize Greene in the running game. While his numbers should see a nice uptick with redshirt-sophomore quarterback Kyle Knight back in the fold after going down with a season ending injury the first game of 2018, it’s Greene’s experience that really has the potential to elevate the LHU offensive attack.
“My job as a veteran is not just to get out there and play for myself, but to let the other young kids learn from me and teach them whenever they do make a mistake,” Greene said. “Overall we have a lot of young players. We’re trying to get them used to the offense. They’re coming from high school and it’s completely different; faster, more energy, and a lot more plays than what they’re used to.”
Greene enters his third year with the program, but now is a graduate student at Lock Haven. He first joined the team in 2017 for what was his junior year academically, providing him with a sizable age gap with most of his teammates.
Rekindling his connection with Knight has been important during the early portion of training camp, but so has mentoring a quartet of talented sophomore receivers that should see steady action in 2019. Christian Drayton, Ahmir Edwards, Alex Lantz and Justin White are all second-year players that saw snaps down the stretch in 2018 with a banged up receiving corps. With many of the secondary receivers from last season no longer on the team, the younger wideouts will have plenty of opportunities to make their mark in Lock Haven’s high-tempo offense.
In the team’s most memorable game of last season, a 50-48 victory in the season finale at Gannon on a snow-covered field, Drayton particularly shined. The Allentown native caught four passes for 82 yards. White started that game as the third receiver, catching a 13-yard pass. Edwards actually filled in as the starting cornerback in that contest, with Lock Haven’s secondary facing injuries of extreme proportions. Lantz was out that game due to injury.
As Greene works closely with those guys, he notices the carryover effect for the young guys from the Gannon victory.
“As a wide receiving corps with Chris (Drayton), (Justin) White and Ahmir (Edwards) getting most of the reps the last game of the season I can see that carry over,” Greene said. “Their leadership, as well with the freshmen. They’re carrying that over from Gannon to the preseason here with Lock Haven.”
As a graduate student, Greene will have all online classes. The pros of this of course are not having to do the mad dash between in-person classes, football meetings and practices. Greene seems to be a fan of this, but also acknowledged the classes should be harder now that he’s in graduate school.
The transition out of being an undergrad, meant that Greene had to miss spring football. While learning the plays was a nonissue for the experienced receiver, not getting a chance to work with Knight and fellow redshirt-sophomore quarterback Ethan Persa in the spring was the biggest missed opportunity. He’s making up for lost time now though.
“Me being older I knew the offense, so I wasn’t too out of sync with [my teammates],” Greene said. “My main focus in camp is to get with the quarterbacks and make sure that connection is still there from last year.”
Greene also marveled at Knight’s arm strength, something that he hadn’t been on the receiving end of in quite some time.
“Kyle (Knight) is definitely a quarterback that has a strong arm,” Greene said. “With me not playing in the spring and Kyle getting back in the spring it kind of threw it off a little bit. So I was out here the first practice and I was like ‘ooh’ about throwing it through my chest. Day two there was a lot better connection with Kyle. That arm strength is just incredible.”
The power Knight generates with his arm and his ability to run the ball makes him a true dual-threat quarterback. Knight, Greene, reigning All-America tight end Jalen Jackson, and All-PSAC East Second Team running back Chantz Swartz give the Bald Eagles lots to work with offensively. If those sophomore receivers and even some freshmen wideouts can also make an impact in the offense, that could go a long ways towards how competitive LHU will be this year.
“Our offense should be very explosive,” Greene said. “We have everyone returning. Jalen Jackson is an All-American. Kyle Knight, who went down in the first game is returning. Chantz Swartz, an all-conference player. Myself, and then adding the other sophomores to the list.”