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Returning Player Refresher: Tion Green

In his last season, Green will be expected to just keep doing what he’s always done: produce.

NCAA Football: Alabama A&M at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Tion Green is one of those players that has seemingly been playing college football forever. A mainstay in the Cincinnati Bearcats’ backfield, Green has done nothing but produce. No matter how many quarterback’s he’s gotten handoffs from, no matter who has made up the offensive line and no matter who has been coaching the running backs, Green has been there.

His Bearcat journey started all the way back in 2012. As a three-star recruit out of Sanford, Florida, Green joined a team that already had quite a bit in terms of running back depth with the likes of George Winn, Ralph David Abernathy IV and Jameel Poteat. Winn was the lead back during Green’s freshman season, rushing for 1,334 yards and 13 touchdowns. Green, unsurprisingly, came nowhere near that level of production. Even so, he still managed to average 4.38 yards per carry, although on a rather microscopic sample size (16 carries).

The impression Green made in 2012 helped him earn much more playing time as a sophomore. Winn graduated and Jameel Poteat, who was hobbled by injuries for much of 2012, left. That opened up space for Green, who teamed up with Abernathy and Hosey Williams to lead the best rushing offense in the American Athletic Conference. Williams (655 yards) and Abernathy (518 yards) led the way, but Green pounded out 412 yards on 91 attempts (4.53 YPC) and scored a team-high seven touchdowns on the ground.

The injury bug laid waste to that trio, including Green, in 2014. Abernathy was still on the roster in 2014 but missed a great deal of time due to injuries to his heel and hamstring. Green followed, suffering a season-ending injury after rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown during the first three games. Williams played in four games before hitting the injury list for the year as well and Rod Moore and Mike Boone took over from there.

After a 2014 season marred by injury, Green went right back into the fray. Fortunately, any fears that he would be limited in 2015 disappeared and disappeared quickly. Although Williams (777 yards) and Boone (749 yards) finished with more production in terms of yardage, Green led the team in carries (151) and accumulated a career-high 729 yards and eight touchdowns. In addition, his 4.8 yards per carry average was the best mark of his career.

He began the season by running all over Alabama A&M (127 yards, TD) and managed to tally at least 50 yards and a touchdown in each of the first three games. He never eclipsed the 100-yard mark again, but had at least 50 yards five more times before the campaign came to an end.

Next year, it will be a bit odd not seeing Green in red and black. However, UC will get one last season of consistent production from a back who has been an integral part of the offense forever, er, for years.