JSU UNA Action

UNA's Jacob Tucker gets smothered by Jacksonville State defensive back Ra'Shad Green and Joel McCandless during the JSU and UNA game at JSU.

Tickets, anybody? Please?

That’s been the quest since May for the family of Ra’Shad Green, Jacksonville State’s senior defensive back.

Green is a native of Reserve, La., and his teammates will be playing at LSU on Saturday night (6:30, SEC Network). Parents Michael and Valencia, other family members, friends and former teammates will be headed to Baton Rouge, an hour away from Reserve, to watch.

“They’re going to have a big tailgate party,” Green said. “People told me, ‘It doesn’t matter if we come to the game. We’re going to be outside rooting you on.’”

The family has secured some 20 tickets, and Green is collecting others from teammates who won’t be able to use theirs.

“I don’t think it’ll make me nervous (playing in front of family),” he said. “It puts me in a comfortable environment. I haven’t played a home game since 2012, in high school. For my family to actually see me, it makes me more comfortable when they’re actually at the game.”

Buying tickets was made a less of a financial burden a few weeks ago. That’s when JSU coach John Grass announced at a team meeting that Green, a walk-on, had been awarded a football scholarship.

“This is what a real Gamecock looks like,” Grass said, calling Green up in front of the team.

Green, who admitted that he “shed a tear” when having a private conversation with Grass, said, “I’ve been working hard for that offer. I was shocked that the time had finally come. My teammates started cheering, giving me high-fives and chest-bumps and everything, telling me congratulations the whole day.”

Recalled Grass: “It was great. Any time as a football team you get to reward a guy, who was a walk-on, who came in here a nobody and earned a starting job, to get that scholarship our guys were excited for him.”

It was hardly a direct route from Reserve, a small town northwest of New Orleans, just off Interstate 10 on the way to Baton Rouge. Like much of that part of the state, Reserve was recently hit by the flooding.

Said Green, “My neighborhood doesn’t flood as much (as others) but water covered the whole street. My mom sent me pictures. Water came all the way up to our doorstep but it didn’t get into the house.”

Green played at East Saint John High (alma mater of ex-Gamecock quarterback Ryan Perrilloux) in Reserve and averaged 19.9 yards a catch, being named to all the usual postseason all-star teams. Though a number of mid-major Louisiana colleges were interested, he went to Cornell College, a Division III team in Mount Vernon, Iowa. 

He was a wide receiver and kick returner at Cornell in 2012, then after sitting out in 2013 and taking a redshirt season at Jax State in 2014, he made the transition to defensive back a year ago. He made his first start Thursday in the win over North Alabama.

Two days after Jax State’s season-opening win, LSU lost to Wisconsin 16-14, playing at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field.

Truth be told, “I’m a big LSU fan. I was kind of heartbroken when they lost,” Green said. “But I know that’s my opponent, and we have to learn from the film and the defense Wisconsin showed them, and the physicality they played with.”

Green was never recruited by LSU, but that doesn’t play into any motivation this weekend. There is no “you ignored me, so I’m going to get revenge” aspect.

“There’s nothing to prove, because I like where I’m at,” Green said. “God takes you to places for reasons. He brings you everything in your life for a reason. I love where I’m. I love the team. I love the coaches. For me to be playing a team that should have recruited me is not on my mind.”

But getting tickets to watch him play that team, well, that’s another matter.