When Maryland kicker Adam Greene steps up to the lectern inside Xfinity Center to speak at the Robert H. Smith School of Business' commencement ceremony Wednesday, his six-minute speech to fellow graduates will have a fairly simple message.
"I talk a lot about the moments you are given in life and what you can do with those moments," Greene said before the Terps' regular-season finale last month. "How we strive for perfection. You don't have to be perfect, but you should be the best you can be."
In terms of academic achievements, Greene has been nearly perfect: a 3.9 GPA with a double major in finance and information systems. He's also started work on his master's degree in finance, and is believed to be the first Maryland football player in modern team history to speak at a commencement event.
Terps coach DJ Durkin called it an "honor" for Greene, his family and the program. "Adam's a tireless worker both on the field and in the classroom," he said through a team spokesman last week. "I know how much this opportunity means to him and how hard he's worked to earn it. We couldn't be more proud."
In terms of kicking, however, the redshirt junior has struggled at times in finding such perfection.
When Maryland (6-6) plays Boston College (6-6) in the Quick Lane Bowl at Detroit's Ford Field on Monday, Greene is expected to be back as its No. 1 kicker. After missing a pair of second-quarter field-goal attempts in the Nov. 26 win over Rutgers, he was benched. Now back atop the team's latest depth chart, the Arnold native knows he must be better.
"I've always taken the idea that you can accomplish anything if you have passion and a love for it," Greene said. "When it comes to kicking field goals, or when it comes to numbers and analytics, those are two things I have a passion for and I love doing. I would always find a way to find the time to commit to each one and to be successful in each."
Greene saw early in his career how fleeting success can be for a kicker. Brad Craddock, his former teammate and mentor who arrived at Maryland in 2012 as a 20-year-old punter, made 10 of 16 field-goal attempts in his freshman season. By his junior year, Craddock was nearly perfect, hitting 18 of 19 and winning the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's best kicker.
Then came last season, when Craddock broke his hand. The injury marked Craddock's last game in College Park, but it gave Greene a chance.
"When I knew I had to fill in for Brad, I could take it two ways. I could say that it's a big challenge or it's an opportunity," Greene said. "I knew that if I saw it as a challenge, it would be more like, 'How am I going to do that?' and follow someone who's been an incredible kicker.
"I took it as an opportunity to be able to see it as, 'What can I do to get to that level? How can I train so when I step on the field, I know that I put in the time and I put in the effort and everything that's needed to be successful?' I devoted my training and my workouts so I could be the best I could be."
Former Broadneck coach Jeff Herrick, who coached Greene for his freshman and sophomore seasons, said Greene's positive demeanor masks a different on-field persona. He saw the change in a kicker who once made a 55-yarder in a high school game.
"One thing I'll guarantee you, he is very competitive," said Herrick, an All-America punter at Anne Arundel Community College during the 1970s. "He is and does know the importance of what the team has to achieve. There's nobody on that team that understands better that you must perform."
Earlier this season, when Greene was replaced as kickoff specialist by Towson transfer Danny Sutton, he said that it "bugged" him, but he understood that his position was no different than any other.
"We've rooted this program in competition," Greene said late in the season. "When I got taken off kickoffs and we had competition, it was, 'All right, here we go.' This is what it's all about. … It's what best for the team."
The benching against Rutgers came on a blustery day at Maryland Stadium. After making eight of his first 11 field-goal attempts this season, Greene missed a 46-yarder and a 38-yarder into a swirling wind. His replacement, freshman walk-on Mike Shinsky (McDonogh), made a 41-yarder in the fourth quarter into the same end of the stadium after the winds had calmed.
Debbie Greene, his mother and a Maryland graduate, recalled how after the win over the Scarlet Knights, Adam said getting benched would serve as motivation.
"He said, 'It's only going to put me out on that [practice] field, and I'm going to be working harder,' " she said. "If you talk to any of the coaches, he doesn't just show up for practice. He doesn't settle for anything less than doing the best and being the best."
He should get that chance Monday against Boston College, and next season, when he intends to play as a full-time graduate student.
Beyond that, Greene understands he might have to consider Plan B. Debbie Greene said former Ravens kicker Matt Stover, who has worked with her son for several years, would tell him and others with NFL aspirations that only 1 percent of college kickers make it that far, and most don't last more than a couple of seasons.
For proof, all Greene has to do is look at Craddock, who has had a couple of tryouts but nothing more.
"Seeing Brad, it makes you realize that the NFL is just like business, especially for kickers," Greene said. "It's pretty tough. You have to make the most out of every opportunity you're given."
Sounds like another good message for his commencement speech.