Westover defensive tackle Chris Green, who is always double- and triple-teamed by opposing linemen, has had 18 tackles, including eight for losses, in three games this season and is out to prove a point that he can play much bigger than his 6-foot, 272-pound frame.
ALBANY -- Two inches.
Two agonizing, gut-wrenching inches.
That's the distance between heaven and hell, daylight and darkness, joy and anger.
Those two inches eat away at Chris Green, driving him, pushing him and ever reminding him that reality and perception are two different things.
It's what others use to define Green, a Herald dynamite dozen defensive tackle at Westover who simply refuses to be defined or stopped at the line of scrimmage.
Green can destroy offensive linemen, chew up and spit running backs and make life miserable for quarterbacks. He just can't tackle the image that haunts him.
"Chris is 6-foot tall, and every recruiter says the same thing,'' Westover defensive coordinator Bryan Brown said. "We had 16 recruiters come in here last spring to look at him, and they all love him. If Chris was 6-2 or 6-3 every Division 1 program would want to sign him. The Auburn coach was here last spring and said if Chris was 6-2 he would take him right now.
"That's what they say, but you can take all of the 6-3 and 6-4 defensive linemen in Georgia, and I'll bet my paycheck that he can match up with any of them pound for pound,'' Westover coach Octavia Jones said.
And he said it with passion.
That's the way Green plays the game -- with an unrelenting passion. If you think he has something to prove, you're right.
"I want to show everybody that I can play bigger than what they say,'' said Green, who gets double- and triple-teamed every game. No team has been able to stop him. He had 97 tackles, including 25 for losses last year as a junior, and he already has 18 tackles, including eight for losses in three games this season.
"He's unblockable at times,'' Jones said. "I've seen him chase down wide receivers on screen plays, and I've seen him run down running backs on the backside. He's got a lot of heart, a lot of desire. You can tell he's playing with a purpose.
Jones continued: "I tell him before every game that he's 6-feet tall and they think he's too short. I tell him that to motivate him.''
No one needs to say a word.
"Chris has that motor,'' Brown said. "He's non-stop. Even when he is hurt he doesn't want to come out of the game. He's what every coach wants. He's got that defensive mentality. Not many players at the high school level have that mentality. He's got the mentality of a college player.
"He refuses defeat,'' he said. "He won't accept it. He's like that in the weight room, and he's like that on the field.''
Everybody has a favorite story about Green, but the one the kids at Westover always talk about is the play he made at the goal line last year against Americus-Sumter, a team that had the biggest offensive line in Southwest Georgia.
"He was double-teamed and he broke through the line and hit the quarterback so hard the ball went flying in the air,'' fullback McKenny Martin said.
"Yeah, it went in the air,'' added tailback Dalviness Greene. "It went about 15, 20 feet in the air. It was like he threw it up there.''
McKenny is a tough-nosed blocker who Bainbridge coach Ed Pilcher said blocked like he was a bowling ball, and who the Westover coaches call the bull. He goes against Green in practice and has one word for it.
"Grueling, he said. "He's a beast, just a beast.''
Strong, powerful and with the will to tackle a mountain, Green bench presses 330 and squats 630 pounds. He is fast for a big guy, and has been clocked at 4.8 in the 40. And he knows where the ball is. He just can't outrun the 6-foot tall image.
"It seems like he is in on every play,'' Westover defensive end Derrick Akins said. "Wherever the ball is, that's where Chris Green is.''
Opponents know it.
"A lot of times teams know they can't run to his side, and they run away from him. Bainbridge ran the other way,'' Westover linebacker Don Mills said.
Brown knows it, too.
"I've told our other defensive tackle De'Marcus Holloway that he needs to step up because more and more teams are going to running the ball to his side to stay away from Chris,'' Brown said.
That's the kind of impact Green has.
"He's always getting my tackles and my fumbles,'' said Mills, who has known Green since the fourth grade. "We (kid each other about it). He is a leader, and at times he will get onto guys on the field. But he is playful, too. He might do something crazy, like once he messed up at practice, and then he jumped up and slammed the ground like a wrestler,'' he said, bending his elbow to show the classic wrestler slam. "Or sometimes he will just make a play and come into the huddle and shout 'Gaws!' He is always shouting Gaws. That's SWAG backward. I don't know if he made it up or not, or maybe he heard it in a song, but he says it a lot.''
Green has a lot of swag, just not a lot of self bravado.
"He doesn't get into all the hype,'' Martin said. "You would think he would get a big head, but he doesn't at all. He's just a great guy, the way he carries himself. He's like a friendly giant off the field. On the field, he's someone you don't want to mess with. I'm glad he's on my team.''
Brown knows what Green means to the defense.
"He plays so hard that he's going to make everybody else play better,'' Brown said. 'He plays so hard that they don't want to be the weak link and have to answer to him.''
Jones knows it, too.
"He's the heart and soul of our defense,'' Jones said.
And Green has a heart that beats for one purpose -- his mother Malika Norwood.
"Everything I do, I do for my mother,'' Green said. "I play the game because I love the game, but it's for my mother. That's why (I want to get a college scholarship), because it would be a fitting way to give something back to her.
"She has done so much for me,'' he said. "My mother's body is in a way that she is sick a lot and she's in the hospital a lot, and I would do anything for her. I just want to give something back to her.''
That's one more reason the perception from colleges that he isn't tall enough to be a star at the Division 1 level gets to Green.
"It aggravates me. It angers me,'' he said. "I want to prove they are wrong.''
Getting to know Chris Green: The Dynamite "Half Dozen" Q&A
New this year, a half dozen questions for our Dynamite Dozen players about their likes off the football field:
Q: What's your favorite food?
A: "Can I say two? Anything that's fried, and anything that's breakfast."
Q: What's your favorite movie?
A: "All three of the Friday movies. It's because of Mike Epps."
Q: Who is your favorite entertainer (movie star, comedian, singer etc)?
A: "Kevin Hart. He gets me rolling.''
Q: Who is your favorite NFL player?
A: "Julius Peppers. That man is amazing. I've been looking up to him for a long time.''
Q: If you were stranded on an island, who would you want to be with you?
A: (Singer, rapper, actress) "Teyana Taylor.''
Q: Who is the person you owe everything to?
A: "My mother (Malika Norwood). Because for 17 years she has done everything for me.''