It would be hard for most people to adjust going from a town of 365 people to living in Iowa City. Chad Greenway adjusted just fine. It also would be hard for someone to adjust from high school playing nine-on-nine football to playing 11-on-11 in the Big Ten. Chad Greenway, again, adjusted just fine. Not only is the junior linebacker from Mt. Vernon, S.D., adjusting, he is becoming a star.
Greenway was hardly recruited out of high school, garnering little attention on his farm that had 4,000 hogs and 700 cattle.
“I wasn’t a big recruit coming out of high school. I didn’t get a lot of offers or looks. Iowa was the only D1 offer, so it was a good choice,” Greenway said.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is sure happy to have found this linebacker whose is around the ball on every play, drawing comparisons to Chicago Bear linebacker Brian Urlacher. In high school, Greenway also lettered all four years in track and field and baseball; and averaged 28 points per game in basketball. Before deciding to play football at Iowa, Greenway entertained the idea of playing basketball in college. If it wasn’t for now Badger defensive coordinator Bret Bielema, Greenway wouldn’t even be playing linebacker. In high school he played quarterback, free safety, and returned punts and kicks. Greenway played safety the first couple weeks, but Bielema, who was a defensive coach at Iowa, asked him to move to linebacker.
“I came in weighing 205 pounds and never really lifted weights,” Greenway said. “I knew I was going to get bigger. Coach Bielema thought [linebacker] would be a good fit for me.”
“This week it might come back to haunt him,” he mused. “It will be exciting to play against Coach Bielema because he helped recruit me, and he taught me a lot.”
When the 6-foot-4 239-pound linebacker came to the University of Iowa he had to learn to play with two more players on the field for each team.
“Coming from high school to the Big Ten is tough for anyone,” Greenway said. “It was tough, but it’s still football. You have to know how to tackle.”
That is definitely something Greenway and fellow junior linebacker Abdul Hodge know about. Together they form one of the best linebacking duos in the nation. Last year Greenway was third in the Big Ten in tackles with 10.2 per game while Hodge led the Big Ten with 10.8 per game. They helped anchor a defense that was ranked first in scoring defense and second in rushing defense, and both were honored to the All-Big Ten team. This season Greenway is ranked fifth in the conference in tackles with 94, while Hodge is sixth with 90, helping lead another solid Hawkeye defense that is ranked first in the Big Ten against the run.
“Just like any linebacker will tell you, it all starts up front,” Greenway said. “They free up Abdul and myself to make plays. We aren’t quite to the number we were last year, tackles wise, and that’s just a credit toward the d-line because there making more tackles which is great. It just matters if it gets done.”
The defense has had to get it done this year. The Hawkeye offense is currently last in the Big Ten in rushing and has gone two games without scoring a touchdown.
The performance of the offense doesn’t affect Greenway’s attitude toward each game.
“We always win or lose as a team,” he said. “If the offense doesn’t score we put it on our shoulders to try and get some points for our team.”
This year Greenway has been playing with some added motivation. While at home in Mt. Vernon, he was reading the NCAA football preview in the national magazine Sporting News. An article in the magazine called Iowa’s linebacking core one of the best in the country, but later called Greenway the most overrated player in the Big Ten.
In the first game of the season Greenway had a monster game, leading the Hawkeyes to a 39-7 win over Kent State, in which the defense held the Golden Flash rushing game to negative 13 yards. He finished the game with 10 tackles, a pass breakup, two interceptions — one returned for a touchdown — and a blocked punt. He was not only named Big Ten defensive player of the week, but also won the Walter Camp National defensive player of the week award.
“It was definitely motivation for me, but we had just as much good publicity as bad publicity so you know I just take it with a grain a salt,” Greenway said. “I went out there and played my game and it was nice to get the monkey off my back right away and have a pretty decent game. Hopefully that first game showed I’m not overrated.”
Greenway has never lost a game as a starter at Kinnick Stadium and looks to keep that streak alive this Saturday when the Hawkeyes host the Badgers.