‘Sky is the limit’ Former Summerville star Green has designs on another big year

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton talks with wide receiver A.J. Green (18) during the team’s NFL minicamp last week in Cincinnati.

Al Behrman

A.J. Green insists he hasn’t turned into a fashion designer, despite having his own custom insignia.

“One day, I hope to have my own line of football shoes,” said Green, who recently returned to Summerville to host a football skills camp. “I just want to be ready.”

It seems A.J. Green was born ready.

Part of the Summerville High School football lore is that coach John McKissick called Green the best receiver in the school’s history — before Green even played a game. Green was more than ready to showcase his talents as a freshman, and by the time he graduated, he was the only player in state history to be named all-state four years in a row by The Associated Press.

Green ended his high school career No. 2 on the all-time national list with 5,373 receiving yards. He is fourth all-time with 279 career catches and 62 career touchdown receptions.

Green was more than ready for the challenge of playing college football. He was considered by many to be the best freshman in the nation in 2008 when he played for the Georgia Bulldogs. He played in 32 games at Georgia and finished with the third-most receptions (166) and third-most receiving yards (2,619) in school history.

And Green was ready to prove himself among the best when a lifeless Cincinnati Bengals team took him as the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

Last fall, the 6-4, 208-pound Pro Bowl selection became the first NFL receiver in history to have 100 receptions, 1,500 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in his first 20 games.

The only thing more impressive than Green’s stats is his attitude. He’s still humble, still smiling and still trying to make a difference in young people’s lives.

That’s why he brought more than a dozen of his NFL buddies to town to instruct and advise potential future stars, some of whom traveled from as far as Florida just to work with Green.

“I’m not the type who needs to have that big spotlight,” Green said. “I’m there to play football. I’ve never felt pressure. There’s no pressure for me because I never get too high, get too low. God has blessed me with talent, and I try to use it.”

He’ll try to tell you he’s not an elite wide receiver. But his statistics suggest otherwise. Green’s 162 career receptions are second-most in NFL history for a player in his first two seasons. The only receiver ahead of him is Marques Colston of New Orleans, who had 168 catches.

“I’m pretty excited,” Green said. “I just keep my head down and keep working. Making a playoff run is what’s important. I’m going to get my stats no matter what. Playing in Cincinnati is fun. It’s a small city, the organization is great and we have great coaches. The sky is the limit.”