The night of the 2020 national championship game, after LSU defeated Clemson 42-25 on Jan. 13 in New Orleans, Malcolm Greene caught a lot of flak from people telling him that he made the wrong college choice.
Greene, a four-star cornerback prospect, had decommitted from LSU and signed with Clemson a month earlier in December 2019, and people from his hometown of Richmond, Va., and others on social media were giving him a hard time for flipping from the SEC’s Tigers to the ACC’s Tigers.
“It was messages from some people who don’t even really watch football. They just wanted something to jab at me,” Greene told reporters on Monday, reflecting on the night of the national title game. “People all around my area, definitely, and on Twitter and different recruiting sites were saying maybe I made the wrong decision and I shouldn’t have flipped. But I know that I put myself in the perfect position to be great in life and I feel like Clemson is the best program and best family to be a part of to do so, and I’m glad I made my decision.”
Fast forward to the present, and it certainly looks like the people who criticized Greene were wrong and he indeed made the right decision to be a Clemson Tiger.
The LSU Tigers currently have a 3-4 overall record and sit in fifth place in the SEC West, while third-ranked Clemson is 8-1 and trying to make a run at its sixth straight ACC Championship and sixth consecutive appearance in the College Football Playoff.
When Greene looks back on his recruitment and decision to withdraw his pledge from LSU and join Clemson’s football program, it came down to where he thought he would be most successful, not only on the field but just as importantly off the field in life after football.
“LSU is definitely a great program, and I was glad to have the opportunity to be a part of that,” Greene said. “But I feel that Clemson just sets me up better for life, and I feel like Clemson is going to set me up to be a great football player at the end of the day and it’s going to put me in a great position for life. I’m thankful for Coach (Dabo) Swinney, Coach (Brent) Venables, Coach (Mike) Reed, Coach (Xavier) Brewer and everybody that just poured into me and is helping me be a great athlete.”
Greene, a true freshman on the field, entered college with 55 credit hours and is a junior in the classroom. By the time he is in his third year at Clemson, he may be working on earning his master’s degree.
Greene knows exactly what he wants to do when his football career ends – he has aspirations of creating what he hopes will become a multi-million dollar sports apparel company – and feels that whenever his playing days are over, he will be able to accomplish his dream in business with the help of Clemson’s P.A.W. Journey life skills and professional development program, and people at Clemson like Jeff Davis, Assistant AD of Football Player Relations, and Savannah Bailey, Director of Life Skills & Community Service.
“I know that P.A.W. Journey will set me up with the opportunities, with micro-internships and making connections with different companies,” Greene said. “And building relationships with people that’s involved with P.A.W. Journey like Savannah and Jeff Davis – they’re just great people, and building relationships with them throughout my freshman year is just something that I will never replace and I’m thankful to have the opportunity.”
On the field, it hasn’t taken long for Greene to see his college decision pay off. The former Highland Springs High School standout has appeared in all nine of Clemson’s games thus far and seen snaps on defense in five of those. He was one of the stars of the Tigers’ 52-17 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday when he tallied three tackles, recorded his first career interception and also had a pass breakup.
Greene is not surprised by the fact he is garnering plenty of early playing time and making an instant impact in his first year with the Tigers.
“I don’t really expect too many things in life, but this is actually one thing that I did expect,” he said. “I understand that I do put the work in and I tried to buy into the program as much as anyone could, and I’m thankful to be a part of Clemson. It’s the best place that I’ve been in many years. I really expected to make a big splash, but I’m just thankful that Coach Venables and Coach Reed and the other defensive staff members just poured into me and helped me learn the game plan, helped me learn football more and just helped me become a great player and put me in positions to make great plays.”
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