Bulldog-turned-Jacket J.J. Green fired up for Saturday

Georgia Tech running back J.J. Green (28) runs against Georgia Southern defensive back Sean Freeman (24) in the first half at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, October 15, 2016. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Georgia Tech A-back J.J. Green’s engine typically spins pretty fast, but it’s whirring with particular speed this week.

“It’s just more energy,” A-back Clinton Lynch said. “He already had a lot of energy, just more. Just double, pretty much. He’s really excited; I can really tell.”

Green will make history Saturday when Tech and Georgia meet Saturday at Sanford Stadium. Green will become just the third player in the rivalry’s 123-year history known to have taken the field both as a Bulldog and Yellow Jacket. Green, from Woodbine, just south of Brunswick, played two seasons in Athens before transferring to Tech in January 2015.

“He’s just ready to play against them,” Lynch said.

Green will follow John Dewberry, who quarterbacked the Jackets to wins over the Bulldogs in 1984 and 1985 after transferring from Georgia, and Tyrone Sorrells, a tight end-turned-offensive lineman who likewise transitioned from Athens to Midtown after the 1983 season. Green left Georgia harboring no ill will for Georgia, merely a desire to play running back in a scheme that fit his abilities.

At Georgia, he had started out at running back before moving to defensive back as a sophomore. With playing time appearing limited, Green looked to Tech, which had recruited him out of high school. After sitting out last season, Green has flourished at A-back and has become probably the best perimeter blocker in his position group, possessing the aggressiveness and timing required to tumble cornerbacks and safeties with cut blocks.

“I think he’s fit in well here,” coach Paul Johnson said.

Green has played in nine games and started eight, having missed the North Carolina and Virginia Tech games with an ankle injury suffered against Duke. He returned for Saturday’s win over Virginia. He has 18 carries for 103 yards and two catches for 29 yards.

“He’s got some rust he had to knock off,” Johnson said. “We’re still working with him.”

Tech did not make Green available for interviews this week. Green seems to found his spot at Tech, part of the Jackets’ playmaking assembly of A-backs, including Qua Searcy, Isiah Willis and Lynch. Teammates have remarked upon the confidence and energy that he has brought to the team.

“J.J.’s going to be J.J.,” quarterback Justin Thomas said. “But I think, yeah, game day, he’ll be pretty amped up.”

It will be his second reunion game this season. When the Jackets played Miami on Oct. 1 at Bobby Dodd Stadium, he caught up with former Georgia coach Mark Richt after the game. There’ll be more coming Saturday.

Georgia nose tackle John Atkins and Green started at Georgia together and grew close over time. Last season, when Green was sitting out, he came back to Athens to visit Atkins and other former teammates.

“Yeah, it’s going to be different, but you’ve just got to take the good with the bad,” Georgia nose tackle John Atkins said. “He’s on the other side. Y’all are friends, but y’all are also enemies in between the whistles.”

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