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HERALD EXLCUSIVE: Rams snag ex-Westover star Greene, top RB prospect from Detroit

Westover’s Dalvinees Greene is hoping to overcome his off-the-field issues and get a second chance at football at Albany State.

Westover’s Dalvinees Greene is hoping to overcome his off-the-field issues and get a second chance at football at Albany State.

ALBANY — Albany State is still looking for its quarterback for next season, but in the meantime Rams coach Mike White might have found his running backs of the future.

On Saturday, White confirmed to The Herald that two top running backs — Westover’s Dalviness Greene and Detroit native Ryan Knuckles — will compete for spots in the backfield next season.

Greene, a Herald Dynamite Dozen selection last year, has signed with the Rams, while Knuckles, who — out of high school — received offers from the University of Miami, the University of Michigan and Michigan State, will walk on at Albany State after being ruled academically ineligible at the Division I level.

Both will help solidify a backfield that lost star runner Nathan Hoyte to graduation and doesn’t return a running back that gained more than 61 yards last season.

“It’s so wide open back there right now,” White said Saturday. “With the group we have coming back, there is going to be good competition for the running back spot.”

Greene was one of the top rushers in Southwest Georgia last season with 1,614 yards, 12 touchdowns and an average of 7.54 yards per carry. In January of this year, however, he was charged with rape, kidnapping and false imprisonment after a female classmate accused him of attacking her behind Westover High School.

Charges are still pending in the case, but he has yet to be indicted. His mother, Felicia Porter, told The Herald on Saturday when reached that she believes charges will likely be dropped but declined to elaborate.

Westover coach Octavia Jones said Greene’s commitment to ASU is a chance for his former running back to put his past behind him.

“It looks good for him to have the opportunity to play next year,” Jones said. “He could be as high as second on their depth chart.”

White is equally excited to see what Greene can do on the field.

“We watched him at Westover and liked the way he attacked the line of scrimmage,” White said. “He is a fast, tough kid who will get in there and mix it up. I look for him to challenge to get on the field this fall.”

White is still waiting to see the potential of Knuckles, who decided just this week to walk on at ASU, where his godmother works. He bounced between high schools in Detroit and Lima, Ohio, but was successful at each stop, accumulating more than 5,000 yards in his four varsity seasons and rushing for more than 2,000 yards in two different seasons.

But because of academic issues, Knuckles, a 2012 high school graduate, didn’t attend school last year and was off the football field before a tryout earlier this year with the Rams. White said that despite his shining resumé, Knuckles was less than impressive at the tryout and didn’t receive an offer from Albany State.

“He came down to one of our tryouts and didn’t run a really good time,” White said. “I was told that I still need to look at him because we might have been overweight or out of shape (at the tryout).”

The Rams are giving him another chance, and that’s music to the ears of Knuckles, who was a counselor at Saturday’s Deion Branch Skills and Drills camp at ASU.

“I feel like God put me here for a reason,” said Knuckles, who will be eligible for Division I for the 2014-15 season. “I am supposed to make a mark here, and whatever happens after that will happen. For now, I am focusing on being here and making a mark on this school. Hopefully I can get me some records here.”

The ASU coaching staff is discussing the possibility of moving Knuckles (5-foot-11, 215 pounds) to fullback, a position that the team is still looking to fill this offseason.

“I am really just trying to come in here as an athlete and see what they need me to play, because I’m all about the team and just want to find a home,” Knuckles said.

White cautioned that even though Knuckles comes in with the highlight reel and high school stats worthy of a Division I scholarship, it’s not a given that he will be successful at the Division II level.

“Sometimes, it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” White said. “I have been here a while, so I am going to wait and see. We have had guys transfer in from Division I programs who have not really panned out. There is more of that than any who have panned out. But sometimes you get lucky and that guy could make a difference.”