It has been a while since former Edison High School star A.J. Greeley last played a football game.
Fresno City College’s season opener Saturday against Sierra College in Rocklin will mark the first time Greeley will play in a football game since Dec. 12, 2014, when Edison faced Oceanside in a CIF Division I regional championship.
That’s a span of 629 days.
He didn’t figure it would take that long. Greeley signed with Fresno State out of high school but delayed his entrance after failing to qualify academically. He then enrolled at Fresno City last January.
“I’m just happy to be playing football,” Greeley said. “Coming here really matured me as a man.”
Greeley worked out with the Rams during the spring while taking classes and was later rewarded. He posted on Twitter he made the dean’s list of honor for the spring semester.
Rams coach Tony Caviglia is proud of Greeley’s accomplishments in the classroom.
“He’s committed to being a student-athlete,” he said. “Football stuff … he’s a natural at it. But he had a tremendous semester academically and I think he’s committed to being a student – and that’s a huge hurdle that he had to take on to set himself up to get recruited.”
While Greeley has committed himself in the classroom, his next task is cutting weight.
Greeley had been out of shape because he “didn’t work out at all.” The 6-foot cornerback arrived at Fresno City at 225 pounds and now is at 205.
“He’s slowly getting in shape,” Rams first-year defensive backs coach Drew Brown said. “He is adjusting to a new program with players and coaches, even though he is from the local community. ... Other players look to him for leadership and he is learning in that new role.”
He’s really a knowledgeable football player and is physical.
Fresno City football coach Tony Caviglia
Greeley admitted it was his mistake for not working out, but he’s focused on getting back into game shape.
“My speed is coming back slowly but surely,” he said. “I can keep up with the receivers. I’m still trying to get down to 190, 195.”
No matter. Caviglia is eager to see how he does during games, and he’ll find out this weekend.
“To be able to chase the receiver 70 yards down the field and come back and play another snap and be able to play without being tired is a big question mark. Not just him, but all of our players,” said Caviglia, who needs one win to pass the late Clare Slaughter as the winningest coach in Fresno City history.
Brown likes Greeley’s make-up and and sees big potential in him.
Coming here really matured me as a man.
A.J. Greeley, on going to Fresno City College
“He is much more physical then we thought – a great tackler and he can play against bigger tight ends or H-backs and cover wide receivers as well,” Brown said. “He is developing into a hybrid type of player who can play as corner, safety or linebacker and blitz a little. In our scheme he is the perfect nickel player in our 4-2-5 group.”
Greeley is hoping to pass his next test against Sierra. He’s already learned some things on what to expect from the Wolverines.
“They pass a lot and like to run a spread offense,” he said. “I pay attention to offensive signals a lot and relay it to my defense. I just want to be a team leader, a team player. I just want to help the team.”