FORT WORTH, Texas -- Aaron Green sounded heartbroken late Saturday night, his voice shaky, his hat pulled low on his head, as he tried to reckon with losing to Oklahoma. But it wasn’t just the 30-29 score. It was the realization that this is almost over.
“It’s just -- I’m talking emotionally -- just the fact that a lot of these guys, I’ll never play with them again,” Green said. “It’s just not really how you envision your senior year going. I know you say we’re 9-2. But I want to win them all.”
Then again, Green’s career didn’t follow the envisioned plan. Losses like that only make the running back admire this team more, only make him more appreciative of his journey. Green ended up right where he needed to be. He calls it divine. He entered this game as a five-star recruit and leaves having fulfilled his promise.
Before he could become the senior workhorse back at TCU, where he’s rushed for 1,099 yards in 11 games, he was the frustrated freshman backup at Nebraska. He didn’t know at the time that he was sitting behind two of the most productive backs in Huskers history. He just wanted to contribute.
Green lived and competed with Ameer Abdullah, who’d finish as the No. 2 rusher in school history and was a Doak Walker Award finalist. They both backed up Rex Burkhead, who is No. 6 in Nebraska’s rushing record book and still playing in the NFL. Green only got to touch the ball 25 times in 2011.
“The whole experience was kind of rough for me,” Green said. “I was young, didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t really think it was the best position for me. But ultimately, I’m glad I went there. I’m glad I learned what I learned.”
He’s grateful he met Abdullah, too. They’ve remained best friends to this day. The Detroit Lions rookie still wonders what they could’ve accomplished together.
“Dude, I wish he could have stayed at Nebraska,” Abdullah said. “I felt like me and him in the backfield at the same time, it would have been dangerous, man.”
Still, Abdullah couldn’t fault Green’s decision to transfer in the summer of 2012.
“He wasn’t a guy who I felt like should have been waiting around,” Abdullah said. “He’s a starter anywhere in the country. Probably could have started. Some days, he was way better than me.”
Green just needed a little push. One spring day, he was walking through campus back to his dorm. He’d been thinking, praying and meditating about going home.
“You know, the only thing on campus you see is Nebraska red,” Green said. “But I remember I looked up and saw some random guy had on a TCU hat and TCU shirt on campus. And, I mean, you don’t even see TCU clothes in San Antonio, Texas. So I kind of took that as a sign. I think that’s the place where I need to be.
“Whoever that guy was, thank you.”
“I remember Josh being all skinny and puny, when he wasn’t that good. Just a kid from Wyoming,” Green said with a laugh. “I remember when people were saying Tre could never be a quarterback.”
Green’s moment finally arrived as a junior, late in the 2014 season. He’s rushed for 100 yards in nine of his 18 games since then.
And he sure ended up in the right place at the right time. He pulled off the miracle in Lubbock, the once-in-a-lifetime catch to keep the perfect season alive. He tried his hardest to keep the Big 12 title hopes alive Saturday, rushing for 95 of his 126 yards in the second half against OU without the help of Boykin and Doctson.
Green is on pace for the most rushing yards in a season by a TCU back not named LaDanian Tomlinson in more than 20 years. He should finish in the Frogs’ top 10 for career rushing touchdowns and 100-yard games. Abdullah knows he’ll be seeing him in the NFL soon.
And now Green’s final home game is already here. He can admit now he wasn’t sure it was all going to work out -- and certainly not this well.
“When things get hard and rocky, you kind of feel like maybe your career may be over or might not turn out the way you want it to be,” Green said. “You’re going to have doubt, have fear.
“But it’s crazy and amazing and humbling all in one just to see it all unfold. Who would’ve ever thought, you know?”
ESPN NFL reporter Michael Rothstein contributed to this report.