East Xtra: Wide receiver blossoming for Woodland Hills
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Tom Greene is no longer one of the WPIAL's best-kept secrets -- at least not when it comes to recruiters from NCAA Division I football programs.
Woodland Hills leading wide receiver is finally starting to draw notice from major-college programs. Although he doesn't have any scholarship offers yet, Wolverines coach George Novak is starting to get a lot of calls about this 6-foot-4, 190-pound senior.
"A lot of college coaches want to see him on tape," Novak said.
It would seem almost impossible in today's information age that a big receiver with speed and quickness from one of the top programs in a fertile recruiting area would go relatively unnoticed.
Greene didn't get a chance to make many splash plays last season when Woodland Hills' primary receiver was Shakim Alonzo, who is now playing collegiately at Cincinnati. Greene caught just six passes for 56 yards in 2011.
Greene has shined this fall, though, as he has 33 receptions for 593 yards, an average of 18.0 yards a catch. He has scored eight touchdowns and also caught one 2-point conversion pass.
Also a defensive back, he has five interceptions, including one on the final play of Woodland Hills' 13-10 victory against Gateway Friday night in a WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinal playoff game at Norwin.
Woodland Hills (9-2) will meet Upper St. Clair (10-1) in the semifinals Friday night at Baldwin High School.
"Coming out of last season, Tom was kind of in the shadows," Novak said. "I knew he was a good athlete with talent but I didn't know how good he could be and I don't think Tom did, either.
"This year, we're throwing the ball a lot and [quarterback] Cody McClelland is really spreading the ball around to different receivers but Tom is definitely a favorite.
"He is our go-to guy. He makes the big plays and he makes the tough catches. He's having a really good year."
Woodland Hills may need to count on Greene more than normal against Upper St. Clair, a team that beat the Wolverines 31-12 on opening night on Aug. 31, because freshman running back Miles Sanders may not play.
Sanders left in the third quarter during the victory against Gateway with an undisclosed injury and did not return. His status for Friday's game is uncertain, according to Novak.
Sanders has rushed for a combined 204 yards in two playoff games after having 437 yards during the regular season.
Greene gave an inkling of how good he could be during the summer when Woodland Hills participated in seven-on-seven drills at various camps.
The one instance that stands out to Novak came when Woodland Hills was participating at a Michigan State passing camp during the offseason in a scrimmage against Martin Luther King High School from Detroit. King has six Division I recruits, according to Novak, but Greene shredded its secondary.
"They couldn't cover him," Novak said. "That's when everyone realized he had a chance to have a really special season.
"I think he gained a lot of confidence over the summer because he's really far surpassed what I thought he could do."
• Game: Upper St. Clair (10-1) vs. Woodland Hills (9-2).
• When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
• Where: Baldwin High School stadium.
• Skinny: Upper St. Clair defeated Woodland Hills, 31-12, in the season opener.
First Published November 15, 2012 12:00 am