When opportunity knocks you are advised to open the door. For Tanner Green, he not just opened it, he barged right through it and shows no signs of stopping to close it.
Green played high school football in Lacombe, then joined the Central Alberta Buccaneers of the Alberta Football League, moved to the Concordia Stingers of the CIS and is now headed for the CFL. That is a path which takes a of of hard work.
“It comes from my love of football. It’s absolutely my favourite sport and I enjoy everything about it,” said Green about his football journey.
It got real serious during his 2015 season with the Bucs when some of his team-mates and friends suggested he had the skills to play at the Canadian university level.
He sat down with his wife Erika to discuss the pros and cons of this plan and it led him to head to school in Quebec to suit up with the Concordia Stingers.
“Concordia was great. They were really interested in me. They got back to me with anything I needed, any questions I had they were quick to answer,” he said.
He chose Concordia because he felt the level of football in Quebec was the one which offered him the toughest competition in Canada and it would give him the best opportunity to get into the CFL.
The next step for the 6’2”, 240 pounder was a regional CFL combine where his football skills were measured against others.
“I walked into the regional combine and I thought the nerves would shake off, but I mean, this is a CFL combine. My heart was pounding quite a bit.”
He settled down to a point where he did well enough to get an invite to the national combine a few days later in Winnipeg and he posted some good numbers for the scouts.
His time in the 40-yard sprint was a solid 4.7 seconds, he bench-pressed 225 pounds 20 times, registered a 9.7-foot broad jump and then had a personal best 33-inch vertical jump.
He says the support he’s received from family and friends has increased his confidence, re-enforcing the feeling that he is here for a reason and he can accomplish his CFL goal.
Next up for Green was the CFL draft which he was confident he would be selected, hoping for a Western team to be closer to home. He just wasn’t sure what round his name would be called.
A large group of supporters joined him at a local bar to watch the CFL draft on TV but the network was only broadcasting the first two rounds. Nobody came calling during the tv broadcast.
“So, we all had our phones out, watching the draft on the CFL website, pick after pick and it was crazy,” he said of the moment the Eskimos selection opportunity came up in round four. “We’re watching and watching and thinking, this is taking a long time to go through and I wonder what’s going on. All of a sudden my phone in the middle of the table rings.”
The caller was Rob Ralph, the head of Canadian recruiting for the Edmonton Eskimos. He was officially a CFL draft pick.
“It’s hard to explain the feeling when I got that call. I could barely talk when I picked up the phone. Everyone around me was just silent, my wife was tearing up, she was so excited.”
Now the full back, special teams player has a camp to attend on May 18th with an exhibition game on the 27th against Saskatchewan. It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows Green that he has a plan to get himself prepared for the next level of his football career.
“Huge for me is getting my head in the playbook,” he said. “One of the most important things is to know that thing inside out. You want to walk into camp and when they say a play you know exactly what you’re doing.”
He credits his football experience at the high school level, the stint with the Bucs and of course Concordia for helping him get to this point in his life. Now, another level of hard work starts for Green and he’s up to answering the call.
“I’m going to do my absolute best in camp, do whatever the team needs me to do. Try my best to have fun, get to know the guys, get involved in the community and yeah, this is the start of the next journey and I’ll see how far I can take this pro career,” he said. “It’s a dream come true.”