Penn State teammates went to bat for Green

In his senior season at Penn State, Stephfon Green was supposed to play the role of reliable backup to Silas Redd at tailback, see time as a receiver out of the backfield, serve as one of the Nittany Lions' better special-teams players and be a leader to the younger players.

Instead, Green had off-field issues that prompted coach Joe Paterno to ban him from pre-season practice. Even after Paterno invited him back after the regular season began, Green was back on his wrong side after being charged with purchasing alcohol for minors.

But Green had some friends on his side: his teammates. Several, most of them seniors, went to Paterno's home after this latest problem and convinced him to reinstate Green.

"The coaches knew what he had done and why he wasn't there but they didn't understand how much he meant to the team, I don't think," junior fullback Michael Zordich said Tuesday.

"So we told him everything we thought of him -- what kind of kid he was, how much respect he has from the guys on the team, how hard he's worked, how much he's put in and that it's a shame not to have him around. Once we got that message through, I think they realized he needed to be around."

Senior offensive tackle Chima Okoli, who was also at the meeting, called Green "a guy that sells out for the team ... (and) gives it everything that he has.

"We talked to Joe and said, if we have any say, we'd like to have him back on the team because we know what type of leader he can be on and off the field, kind of the emotional spark he can provide," Okoli said.

In his most extended action of the season, Green rushed nine times for 33 yards and a touchdown in Saturday night's win over Northwestern, and caught two passes for 10 yards. It was he, not talented sophomore Curtis Dukes, who relieved Redd at times in the fourth quarter as the Lions ran down the clock.

Paterno said he felt Green deserved a chance to come back.

"I told him if he did the things he's supposed to do, he would be fine," Paterno said at his weekly teleconference. "But I think he's gone at it in a very determined way. He's wanting to help the team and he has at different spots."

--Joe Juliano