COLUMBIA – South Carolina defensive coordinator Clayton White entered spring practice with a familiar priority: Get Sherrod Greene to game days.
The goal wasn't only for himself as Greene’s position coach at linebacker, but also the directive from second-year coach Shane Beamer. Greene has had the unfortunate reoccurring theme the last two springs, despite there being more than five months between the 15 allotted practices during the spring and the season.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Greene, who decided to take advantage of a sixth year with the Gamecocks, has been limited the last two springs as he has been recovering from two separate season-ending injuries – a fractured hip in 2020 and a broken right ankle last season.
“It was tough man, because the year before that I had broke my hip,” Greene said. “Just having back-to-back (season-ending) injuries like that, it took a toll on me.”
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In the 2020 season opener against Tennessee, Greene suffered the hip injury that ended his season. After 11 months of rehab and limited reps in practice to ensure his health, he was off to a great start to the 2021 season.
Then on the second play from scrimmage at Georgia, Greene’s right leg gave way. Another season-ending injury and more grueling recovery efforts to get back.
Resorting to the sideline during his recovery has been tough, he said, but he credited his support system for getting through and realizing that all that time was a learning process.
“I had good support in my corner with my family, my mom and them kept my head on straight. It wasn’t as bad as it may have seemed,” Greene said, “but it was a good trial for me.”
Greene has only played in two-plus games combined since 2020.
Despite that, Greene touts as much experience for the Gamecocks’ defense as much as anyone, starting a couple of games as a freshman in 2017. He has 138 career tackles, all but eight of those scattered through his first three seasons.
“He’s a heart and soul kind of guy,” White said. “You want him to be able to pour himself out on the football field on Saturdays during the fall.”
White said Greene never fully practiced last year when the Gamecocks reported in August and first couple of weeks of the season, just to keep him as healthy as possible and prevent further injuries. Beamer and his staff limited Greene the entire spring, even during the annual Garnet and Black Game.
In constrained action in the spring game, Greene still had the third-most tackles for the Garnet, further highlighting White's strategy.
One major reason the staff has limited Greene in the spring is because he doesn’t hold back once his pads and helmet are on.
“He is an ultimate warrior kind of guy, so you try your best to limit him and let’s get him to a fall, into more than one or two more games,” White said. “But he is in a great spot mentally. He’s learning another position where he can have another role and help him use his athletic ability. He’s fired up, in a great spot and I love where he is at right now.”
Greene said he’s looking forward to a healthy 2022 campaign and what it could do for his future.
“That’s my main goal is staying healthy. I know if I have a full, complete season, I got big plans ahead of me,” Greene said. “(I’m) a little too excited, honestly, (to get back out there).
“Sitting back on the sideline, watching the team practice and just wish I could be in there and contribute to the team. The boys are looking good right now, so I just want to be a part of that.”
Cory Diaz covers the South Carolina Gamecocks for The Greenville News as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his work for all things Gamecocks on Twitter: @CoryDiaz_TGN. Got questions regarding South Carolina athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: South Carolina football's Sherrod Greene ready for healthy final season