If there was any worry about who was going to complement Central Washington University running back Michael Roots for the 2019 campaign, those thoughts can be forgotten.

CWU’s running back cohort combined for 2,999 yards and 45 touchdowns in 2018, which ranked it as the sixth best rushing offense in Division II. Roots and Cedric Cooper were one of the most prolific tandems in the country, tallying 2,092 yards and 27 touchdowns together.

Roots, the GNAC Newcomer of the Year, returns for his junior season and CWU lost Cooper due to graduation. But CWU filled that void with the added talent of a Division I transfer out of the University of Montana — sophomore Rey Green.

“He’s really showing here in the spring and excited about having him next fall — it’s a big one for us,” head coach Chris Fisk said.

Green spent three years at Montana. He redshirted as a freshman and then missed the following season because of an injury sustained in the fall camp. He played only one snap in the 2018 season.

Former running back coach Greg Stewart (now on Eastern Washington University’s coaching staff) was recruiting Green out of high school when he was the assistant coach at Southern Oregon University with Fisk.

Green choose to attend Montana, but when he put his name in the transfer portal last year, he reconnected with Stewart and found his place at CWU.

“The situation at Montana wasn’t the right fit for me anymore,” Green said. “Those guys, they had other plans for me, and those aren’t the plans I wanted to go forth with.”

Green attended Evergreen High School in Vancouver and rushed for a career 2,211 yards and 1,247 receiving yards. He earned all-league honors as a running back, cornerback and linebacker.

There’s not much juxtaposition between Roots and Green. Both have similar running styles and nearly identical builds. Roots is listed at 5-foot-10 and weighs 200 pounds. According to Montana athletics’ website, Green stands 5-foot-11 and weights 205 pounds.

“A little bit shorter muscly guys with a lot of speed and good lateral quickness,” Fisk said. “It’s not kind of a thunder-lighting type of crew, but they’re both kind of lighting.”

Green was euphoric about teaming up with Roots in the backfield.

“I think Roots is a beast,” Green said. “He’s Racecar (referring to Roots’ nickname) for sure, everyone knows that. … I’m fast and powerful, and he’s fast and powerful, so we complement each other very well.”

COMMITTEE APPROACH

CWU tends to roll with a running back committee. Last season, Roots and Cooper handled most the carries, but CWU also got production out of Christian Cummings (246 yards).

The year prior, Austin Pernell led the team with 885 yards, ahead of Cummings (595), Hasani Childs (404) and Jordan Tufaga (283).

Green solidifies the “two-headed monster” with Roots, but Fisk views it as a “three-headed monster”.

“I think it ends up being a three-headed monster on some level,” Fisk said. “Those running backs go through a heck of a physical position group and I just think that over the course of a season it always takes three or four of them to kind of get you through the year. But obviously Micheal Roots is the star of the group and Rey (Green) will do a great job and we’re excited to see those guys.”

Fisk mentioned the incoming freshmen will have a chance to compete along with walk-on Jacob Palmer.

Tufaga would have been one of the returning running backs, but he decided to call it quits.

“He decided stop playing football which was kind of a life decision for him that we respected,” Fisk said. “We love Jordan, he’s a great young man, but he decided to hang it up.”

SPRING GAME

CWU’s spring game is at 3:15 p.m. Saturday and is open to the public (no charge). There will be a 50/50 raffle fundraiser for the family of fallen Deputy Office Ryan Thompson. It will be drawn in the third quarter.

Attendees can also help support the FISH Food Bank by bringing canned foods and donating it at the door.

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