Former Buccaneer, Gator to coach at Manatee
Manatee High’s football players weren’t born when Jacquez Green was earning All-American honors at the University of Florida, parlaying his talent into becoming a second-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Their parents or other relatives mentioned who he was to them, Green said.
They’d then look him up on YouTube and see how he really was a special player.
Now they’re getting a front-row seat to his expertise after Manatee High named him their offensive coordinator in July, a move that reunited Green, who had 162 receptions for 2,311 yards and seven touchdowns in five NFL seasons, with longtime friend and Hurricanes head coach Yusuf Shakir.
Green and Shakir first met when Shakir was on a recruiting trip to UF. Green embodied a future coach with his encyclopedia knowledge of football players who were around.
He knew who Shakir was and where he played, Tallahassee Lincoln, beforehand.
And this was in the pre-recruiting website era. Green said he read newspapers all the time, so he knew who all the top prospects were.
Green also was familiar with Lincoln, because Shakir’s coach, David Wilson, was a coach during the Florida-Georgia high school football game that Green participated in before he got to Gainesville.
“He’s like a walking thesaurus or dictionary,” Shakir said of Green. “Any football player, he’d be like, ‘Oh yeah, he’s from here, he played at this high school.’ He’s always been like that. When I first met him, he said, ‘You’re Yusuf Shakir. You play at Tallahassee Lincoln.’
“He knew the stats and was like, ‘Yeah, you have a running back on a visit this weekend to Michigan, but he’s probably going to commit to Notre Dame.’ And I knew everything about him. ... Because I’m the same way. ... We hit it off.”
After their first meeting, Green wrapped his Gators career and became an NFL player. Then in 2007, Green was in Gainesville finishing school when he talked to former Bucs teammate Shaun King on the phone. King relayed to Green how Shakir was taking over as head coach at King’s alma mater, St. Petersburg Gibbs.
“I was like, ‘For real? I want to coach. I’m thinking about coaching,’ ” Green recalled. “He said, ‘Man, you want me to tell him to call you?’ I said, ‘Yeah, tell him to call me.’ ... Five minutes later, Coach Shakir called me on the phone. ... Next thing I know, I’m living down in St. Pete and was coaching for a couple years.”
From there, Green joined Shakir a year after Shakir became head coach at his alma mater, Lincoln. He assumed offensive coordinator duties after the Trojans endured a slow start to the 2010 season. Lincoln didn’t lose another game en route to a state title.
“And the rest has been history,” Green said.
When Shakir was hired in late May 2017 to replace John Booth as Manatee’s next head coach, Green already was committed to coaching at Tallahassee Godby. After Godby’s head coach left, Green joined Shakir’s staff in Bradenton this summer.
Before he arrived in Bradenton, Green was aware of Manatee County football. During his time with the Gators, he played with several players from the area who played at Manatee such as current Palmetto High assistant coach Robby Stevenson and Dock Pollard, and Southeast High alums such as Reggie Green and Reggie Davis, just to name a few.
And when he met Shakir on his recruiting visit to Gainesville, Green was healing from a dislocated hip he picked up in the 1995 national championship game famous for Manatee High alum “Touchdown” Tommie Frazier’s 75-yard touchdown run during which he broke several tackles from Florida defenders.
That Nebraska team also had Manatee High alum Shevin Wiggins, who was Mr. Florida as the top high school football player in the state. It’s something Green said him and his Gators teammates tease Fred Taylor — who later had an illustrious NFL career — about for not winning the award the year Wiggins won.
Green was also an assistant at Lincoln the night Manatee broke in its new scoreboard and saw its lengthy home winning streak come to a close. Lincoln’s victory that Friday in 2015 marked the first time the Canes lost a home game in seven years.
Manatee fans saw first-hand the offensive style Green employs as a coordinator that Friday night against Lincoln. It stems from what he picked up during his career, with his own flavor.
Green said his coach at Florida, Steve Spurrier, helped him a lot.
“Playing receiver, we had to know what the quarterback was thinking,” Green said. “We had to be able to read coverages. With him, I learned how to beat different coverages with pass routes.”
While he was with the Bucs, Green picked up things from Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden. With Dungy, he learned how to deal with people. That is showcased in practices and in games with how he doesn’t scream or yell at players to get their attention.
Green said he learned the preparation aspect with Gruden as well as some intricacies of the West Coast offense.
“As an offense, I want to be physical,” Green said. “I want to be a physical football team. When you play Manatee, you know that you’ve got to strap it up. They’re going to come at you hard. They’re going to run the football tough, they’re going to run the ball hard, they’re going to be physical and hit you for all 48 minutes of the football game.
“My main thing is, people always think of me, he played at Florida (with) Spurrier, ‘Oh, he’s going to throw it around the park 50 million (times).’ Nooo, I’m going to throw the ball. I’m going to have a balanced attack. But I want to be physical up front.”