Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green, whose recruiting area includes South Carolina, said that Greene was torn about leaving his family and a state he had never ventured out of until he visited the academy for the first time.

"He was a guy who has deep roots in South Carolina and wanted to stay at home, but he had a maturity academically and for his future ... he saw the value of what the academy could do for him and how it could change his life and his whole family's life," Green said. "He's really become a leader for us."

While not elected a team captain in the spring, Greene became a de facto captain after fellow seniors Brye French and Bo Snelson were stripped this summer of their title by the academy for unspecified infractions.

Niumatalolo recognized Greene's leadership and recently named him a game captain for Saturday's much-anticipated Emerald Isle Classic. When the Midshipmen take the field Saturday at Aviva Stadium, Greene and Bush, the starting rover, will be leading them out.


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"I feel like I have to be more of a leader whether I'm a captain or not," Greene said. "I've been here for awhile. I wish I would have been a captain, but at the same time, I think Bo and Brye were good candidates for the position. I think we still look at them as our captains. They still lead from the front and set the standards, but I am right behind them. I am next in line."

Greene had one of the few highlights in last year's 56-14 loss to the Fighting Irish in South Bend, Ind. He scored a second-quarter touchdown on a 9-yard pass from quarterback Trey Miller, a sophomore making his first start in place on an injured Kriss Proctor. It helped cut Notre Dame's early 14-0 lead in half and put the Midshipmen briefly back in the game.

"As far as last year, I don't look back and say, 'They beat us and I've got to play harder,'" Greene said. "I'm going to play hard regardless. I just look forward, I don't look back."

Yet Greene knows that his football career is winding down, and said that he appreciates it more now than he did when he first arrived in Annapolis. He also saw what happened last year when senior slotback Aaron Santiago lost six games with a broken arm.

"You really don't look at the opportunity you have, but once he got hurt, you could see how [down] he was," Greene said. "It really brought me back and told me you have to cherish it because you never know when it could be your last play."

NAVY AT A GLANCE

COACH: Ken Niumatalolo (5th season)

CONFERENCE: Independent

LAST SEASON: 5-7

RADIO: 1090 AM, 1430 AM, 99.9 FM

STADIUM: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium

TICKETS: Season tickets are still available for regular seating ($180), adult on the grass in the north end zone ($100) and for children 12 and under in the north end zone ($60). Individual tickets are available for the five home games. The homecoming game tickets against Indiana on Oct. 20 are $40 for seats in the stadium, $20 and $12 for adults and children under 12 respectively. Tickets for the other four home games are $35, $20 and $12.

PARKING: Season-ticket holders are eligible to buy one season parking pass for each two tickets purchased. Parking passes are $100 for cars, $300 for buses and RVs. Single-game parking passes are available for $20 for cars, $60 for buses and RVs.

OFFENSE: Triple option

DEFENSE: 3-4

OUTLOOK: The Midshipmen are coming off their first losing season in a decade, and the first under Ken Niumatalolo in four years as coach. Junior quarterback Trey Miller is not the only new starter on the offense, with half the offensive line rebuilt and sophomore Noah Copeland getting a chance at fullback. Navy is typically deep at slotback, led by Gee Gee Greene and John Howell. While the Midshipmen typically don’t throw much, and sometimes not at all, they will be without their two leading receivers in senior Matt Aiken (knee injury) and Brandon Turner (suspended for the Notre Dame game for violating team rules earlier this week). Defensively, the Midshipmen should be much improved from last season. Despite the loss of Jabaree Tuani, the emergence of junior nose guard Barry Dabney should help the defensive line. The Midshipmen are deep at linebacker, and sophomore Obi Uzoma has reminded some of former star Ross Pospisil. The secondary gained a lot of experience last season. The biggest question going into preseason was at kicker, where freshman Nick Sloan recently won the job.

don.markus@baltsun.com