It took until the sixth week of the season, but Stephfon Green finally finished serving his Joe Paterno-mandated suspension and returned to the field in Saturday’s 13-3 win over Iowa. The senior running back played one snap, catching a screen pass from Matt McGloin that went for a loss of four yards.
Green was suspended for preseason practices for undisclosed reasons. He rejoined the team at practice about a week before the season opener but did not play against Indiana State. During the week leading up to the Sept. 10 game against Alabama, Green was charged with buying alcohol for two minors in July. He had been suspended ever since.
Though Green was not made available to the media after Saturday’s game, senior defensive tackle Devon Still, a close friend of Green’s, said it was great to have him back.
“I missed him these past five weeks,” Still said. “His presence in the locker room just changed around the whole offense. Hopefully, he’ll get more play on the football field, but for right now he’s fulfilling his role that is needed on this team. And that’s just to be an inspiration, just to push the offense.”
In his first three seasons at Penn State, the 5-foot-10, 198-pound running back rushed for 1,085 yards. His role in the rotation for the rest of the season remains to be seen. Behind Silas Redd, Penn State has Brandon Beachum, who has missed the last two games with a sprained right foot, and Curtis Dukes.
Dukes has played well in Beachum’s absence. The sophomore rushed for 60 yards on nine carries against the Hawkeyes.
Paterno said at his weekly press conference last Tuesday that Green had been practicing with the second- and third-team offenses in preparation for the Iowa game.
“He was a little frustrated that he didn’t get in as much as he wanted (against Iowa), but I told him, 'you gotta start somewhere,’ ” Redd said on Saturday.
Though Redd wouldn’t give too many details, he said Green gave a speech to the team in the locker room before Saturday’s game. It was the first pep talk the team had gotten from Green since the Outback Bowl last Jan. 1, Redd said.
“It was great,” Redd said. “Just a lot of good things about stepping up and being a man, and you know when he’s talking to you he looks you dead in the eye, so you know it’s real.”
Added Still: “(Green) shows a lot of emotion and that’s what he did today. I guess he just let out a lot of frustration he had the five weeks he was sitting out away from the team in the locker room and it paid off.”
From the sound of it, Redd looks up to Green. The sophomore back went as far to say he had wanted Green as a team captain and he doesn’t know what he would do without him on the squad.
“With everything he’s going through, he doesn’t wear it on his sleeve and it doesn’t seem to faze him,” Redd said. “Excuse my French, he’s one hell of a guy.”