Travis Green has seen his impact on Kansas State's defense skyrocket with 13 of his 14 tackles in the Wildcats last two games. The junior college transfer is helping to fill the void in KSU's seccondary after Ty Zimmerman completed his eligibility after the 2013 season. Green talked with ESPN.com about Zimmerman, his interest in criminology and some of the struggles he overcame to end up in Manhattan, Kansas.
What things did you take away from playing with Ty Zimmerman?
Travis Green: With Ty being around there’s a lot of knowledge. He has a leadership mentality and he’s also smart and knows the game. He helped out a lot with being patient and waiting for the right time and doing the right thing when it comes to play execution. Having him around was very important and very lucky for me to have him in the locker room.
What really sticks with you?
Green: Be patient and believe, don’t worry about what is not in front of you.
You’ve seen your playing time jump up lately, was the Auburn game the game you started to feel like you could carve a role in this defense?
Green: Yeah. I talked to my teammates beforehand and they said, ‘Don’t be nervous, just play football.’ Believing that they believed in me was very important. Knowing they weren’t worried about me, I felt very comfortable.
What was last year like, I know you played a bit, then had your injury?
Green: It was kind of tough, coming out of juco, you’re having a good season then all of a sudden you had to sit. I tore my ACL against West Virginia and it put pressure on me because I had injuries in high school, but I knew how to come back. It just made me stronger in my mind.
Did you ever wonder if you would come back or feel snake-bitten at all?
Green: I didn’t question my recovery. The trainers told me "You can do this, we’ve had guys come back stronger than before” that motivated me.
Do you feel 100 percent back?
Green: I definitely feel 100 percent -- I’m not wearing a brace anymore. I feel a lot stronger and more confident in my play.
How has playing at Kansas State been different than you expected?
Green: You never would have known a kid from Omaha, Nebraska, would be playing big-time football. It’s a big deal to me, something I take a lot of pride in.
It’s not a position you thought about growing up?
Green: Growing up I only thought about what was in front of me. Playing in the NFL is a kid’s dream but I never thought I’d be at Kansas State. Once my name was called and they wanted me, I was very happy.
Do you have a earliest memory on the football field?
Green: Definitely my sophomore year of high school. Going through some things my freshman year, getting kicked out and stuff like that, not being able to play for a semester broke my heart. Once I got the opportunity to play football again, I took it very seriously. I knew this was what I wanted to do and if I can do it, I’ll do it to the best of my ability.
Those freshman issues were a blessing in disguise?
Green: Definitely a blessing in disguise, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Criminology is your major, what is it about criminology that interests you?
Green: Giving back. Being able to stop a lot of things with youth and delinquency and being able to control the future and not allowing them to fall into the stereotypes of being young people. There are good people out here who do good things and good things happen to them. I’m definitely, I wouldn’t call it a success story yet, but it happened to me. I was very deviant as a kid. A lot of things worked out for me, I changed for the better, and I’m playing for one of the best schools in the country.
Once your playing career is done is that the dream job for you?
Green: After I’m done with a major in criminology, I want to get my master’s in youth development and be able to convert a lot of kids.
If you had to use one world to describe yourself what would it be?
Green: Humble. I don’t flaunt myself. I stay humble and stay true to what I know and what I know is school and football.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Green: Earning a scholarship. Living up to my goal out of high school, not being able to go to straight to a big-time school and being able to go to junior college, work really hard and play football at a big-time school. I’m proud of myself for going through all those obstacles in order to be where I am now.
Where does your desire for success come from?
Green: My godmother, Yana Morgan. She’s very successful in what she does, she also had a crazy lifestyle a lot of things went on in her life. Now she’s successful and she can do a lot of things, what she wants to do, not what everyone else wants her to do. She’s my motivation.