Tennessee State football has been the home to many siblings over the years. Recently, the Tigers have had numerous brother duos suit up at the same time, including Chris and Seth Rowland, DeVon and Desmond Johnson, Blair and Rodney Edwards, as well as Andrew and Andre Knox. Justin Bather spent the first two seasons with his older brother Brandon as a part of the Big Blue, while spending his final two seasons with younger brother Andrew.
James and Josh Green continue the family affair for TSU as they enter their third season together with the Tigers. Despite being one year apart, the Orlando, Fla., natives never played on the same team until they reached high school.
The Green’s spent two seasons at Dr. Phillips High School before transferring to Olympia HS. In 2016, they transferred to OHS as Josh was entering his junior year and James, his senior. The older Green started as a safety at DPHS for two seasons, while Josh was trying to find a spot on the field. Once at OHS, the two teamed up as the starting safeties, marking the first time they shared the field at the same time.
“Being able to play with your little brother is just a blessing,” said James Green.
The Green’s began playing at a young age where their father helped coach. While their father installed a hard-work mentality that has benefitted their work ethic to this day, their mother always made sure they took care of their academics.
“She did not play,” James stated. “She almost took football away from me because my grades were not on point. She was our number one fan, but when it came to grades, she did not play.”
The Green’s would grow up playing the game and would always compete against each other, including a little one-on-one.
“We used to go at all the time,” Josh said. “My pops used to come home from work and one person would be the receiver and the other would be the DB.”
“I used to have the upper hand on him,” James boasted. “I used to win all the time, but he is going to think otherwise, but I used to win all the time.”
“I would always get the better end of that,” Josh proclaimed. “Always! In all honesty, we used to go back and forth. He’s got better hands, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was me at the end of the day. He might say himself just to hype himself up, but it was me at the end of the day.”
The two continue to battle each other, but they use it more to push each other to get better at their respected positions. There is more constructive discussions helping each other with their techniques and to motivate each other to keep working harder and not settle for anything less.
James will enter the season as a redshirt junior after suffering a season ending injury a week before the first game in 2019. The outside linebacker has played in 20 games over his first two years, collecting 26 tackles, 2.5 for loss.
Josh comes in as a redshirt sophomore, after playing in all 12 games, starting the final eight last season. The safety finished third on the team in tackles with 66, three shy of the team leader, and earned a spot on the Ohio Valley Conference All-Newcomer Team. Josh was also named a Phil Steele Freshman All-American.
“Our roles switched,” James mentioned about his injury. “I was the support guy, after he supported me the year before. He grew so much in one year. I remembered Josh’s first interception. I wanted to cry. He took over last year. Watching him shine helped me forget about my injury.
“Now coming back, I have to catch up to him. If my little brother could do that, I should be able to go out there and do it two-times better.”
The support and brotherhood has been a special time for the central Florida products. They have been able to bounce things off each other and know how to pick each other up when needed.
“Having him with me was the best thing that happened to me.” James commented. “Just having someone there that knows you, to push you and hold you accountable. Having your own blood there is a blessing. College football is not easy. So having someone there who can keep you positive all the time is just a blessing.”
“I love TSU,” exclaimed Josh. “It is more than I expected, better than I ever thought it would be. James helped me on how to handle the coaches, know what to expect and do, and the practices.”
It did not take long for big brother to make an impact on his younger brother when the two were first together at TSU. The first day began with a conditioning test early in the morning. After eight sprints, the elder Green looked back from his group to the skills group to check on his little brother.
“Being an older brother, you always want to be sure your younger brother is ok,” James said. “I’ve been through it, so I know how it feels to be tired and deal with the heat during those condition tests. I knew I was tired and I wanted to be sure he was alright and ready to keep on going.”
“The first day was probably the hardest day of my life,” Josh mentioned. “James knew the pain I was feeling because he went through the same pain a year before. He is a natural leader and he was just trying to pick me up.”
The chance to play together was a dream when they were younger, but they were not sure if it would ever happen. James was drawing attention as early as his sophomore season in high school, opposed to Josh who was still trying to make a name for himself as a junior.
If it were up to their mother, all three of the Green children would have attended Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. James was the first to go and decided to leave the state to attend TSU. Their sister Alayshia chose to go to FAU, where she has graduated and is about to begin her Masters degree at Central Florida.
Josh was still looking for a place to call home when he attended a 7-on-7 camp at Tennessee State. His performance caught the eye of the Tiger staff and put him on their radar. As much as James wanted to play with his younger brother he just tried to support by telling Josh to make the best decision for Josh.
The younger Green continued to look at his options and was really interested in James Madison, but TSU continued to show interest. And after conversations with his parents, Josh felt TSU was the best place for him to go and make a name for himself, committing before his first game of his senior season of high school.
“They face timed and told me,” said James. “I was lit. I was happy for him, but it was a dream. We had always talked about it, but we never knew it would really happen. I remember feeling nothing but joy and happiness.”
The brothers stayed in touch with each other during the year of separation. They would both watch each other’s games and call or text with ways to improve their games.
“He would get annoyed with me because I would send him paragraphs about what he needed to do in the games,” James said.
It is all in love as they list each other, along with their father, as their biggest critic. The constructive feedback is meant to make each other better, but like any other siblings; they have their competitions and chances to give each other a hard time.
“One year in Pop Warner, both our teams were in the semifinals,” Josh started. “My team won, while James’ team was stopped on the yard line with under a minute to play. I was happy on the inside but I couldn’t say anything to James. You have to give about three days to breath and then you can start talking about how I’m in the championship and he’s not.”
“It was every kid’s dream to play in the championship,” James replied. “He would not let it go, it got so bad, and there was nothing I could say. I just had to deal with it. He rubbed that in my face for awhile. He still rubs that in my face to this day. He probably did not mention that; he is the sneaky one.”
As brothers, they would get in trouble play living room football and have arguments over who is faster. They both agree that James has better hands and catching abilities, but they completely agree on their abilities when they are both on the field at the same time for the Tigers.
“When the Green’s are both on the field, it could get really dangerous,” Josh stated.
“It’s time to get to work and go,” James said. “We get the opportunity to leave our mark, our last name, on TSU.”