For the last four prep football seasons, Norton High School head coach Lucas Melvin has said Jacob Green has been among the best players he has ever coached.
A true “team player,” Green has been a dominant force for the Bluejays on the defensive side of the ball along with a being one of the Bluejays’ top linemen on offense.
It came as no surprise to Melvin that Green was able to once again put up astonishing defensive numbers for his Bluejays in 2016. What did surprise the longtime Norton coach, though, was his senior was able to do it at a completely new position.
“He’s just a dynamic athlete — a great kid,” Melvin said. “One of the best players I’ve ever coached.”
So much so the defensive position change didn’t stop him. Collecting an incredible 178 tackles for 7-4 Norton and posting 11 tackles for loss out of a two-linebacker set, Green — for the third straight year — was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year on the HDN All-Area Super 11 team.
“That’s the only thing that surprises me, is he was able to do it at a different position,” Melvin said of the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Green, also a solid wrestler who placed third as a freshman in 2014, but has struggled with winter injuries the past two seasons.
This fall, Melvin’s group was short on true linebackers, so Green stepped up to say he wanted to try out the position — one season after putting up a dominant year at the nose guard spot as a junior.
“Ideally, we probably would have liked to have him back on the defensive line,” Melvin said. “He wanted to try it, and did a good job.”
“He’s got such a good football mind, and always has,” Melvin added. “It didn’t take him too much time to adjust to it.”
The season also pushed him to the top of the Mid-Continent League in tackles for a career. He needed just 29 to tie the record, but blew it out of the water. The old record of 289 was set in 2015 by Ellis’ Dylan Haas.
“He flies around the field. He’s always hustling to make plays and be around the ball,” Melvin said. “Whether it was D-Line or linebacker.
“If we were a 4-3 defensive, he would be a perfect middle linebacker.”
Three times this season, Green recorded at least 23 tackles, and was only in single digits twice — both blowout victories at Southwestern Heights and TMP-Marian.
“He’s a name you have to know,” said Plainville second-year coach Grant Stephenson, whose Cardinals were one of four teams to hand the Bluejays a loss. “He tore us apart (in 2015).”
Green’s move to linebacker also helped open the door for some other big playmakers to step up as defensive linemen — namely junior Collyn Auker, who recorded 21 tackles for loss and 12 sacks for the Bluejays.
“The defensive line did a good job up front,” Melvin said of why Green was able to make some of the plays he did. “They did what they were supposed to do, and he would be the first one to say that.”