Land of 10 has embarked on a series of “Next Generation” articles, a project that aims to bring our readers greater insight into the Class of 2018 signees. Land of 10 Michigan reporters Rachel Lenzi and Kevin Goheen will introduce the Michigan fan base to the newest Wolverines. In this edition, we feature defensive backs and twin brothers Ge’mon Green and German Green.
It’s 1,200 miles from DeSoto, Texas, to Ann Arbor but Ge’mon and German Green are making the move to Michigan together. When you’re twins, you do a lot of things together.
The Greens are mirror twins. They look alike but the 2018 Michigan freshman defensive backs have opposite characteristics. Ge’mon is left-handed, while German is a righty. They have different dominant eyes. Ge’mon is the older of the twins by six minutes but German will tell you he’s the “bigger” brother, meaning he’s a half-inch taller (6-foot-3 vs. 6-2½) and 3 pounds heavier (178 vs. 175).
When the twins arrived on campus the first weekend of June, they soaked in the experience differently.
“Ge’mon went into his room and just kind of relaxed,” said Monday Nickerson-Green, the twins’ mother. “German got up, went and walked campus with one of the guys just to get familiar with everything. He was getting in tune with some of the other guys on the team and was out and about for a long time.”
For their differences, there are stronger similarities.
Ge’mon and German have a shared love of competition. They’ve been competing with and against each other since they were toddlers, pushing each other to become better. That push has led them to Michigan.
Wherever one of the twins was going to go to college, the other was going as well. That was assured when they began the recruiting process.
It wasn’t always the case.
“When we were kids, we were like, ‘I’m going to go to this college’ and ‘you’re going to that college,’ ” German said. “As we started understanding the game and watching college football, we said we were going to go to college together because we motivate each other and we push each other every day.”
The twins didn’t share the experience of playing together in 2016 after German sustained an ACL injury in the spring. He attempted a comeback in the playoffs, but after one game coaches decided not to risk jeopardizing his future if he wasn’t fully recovered. Doctors had cleared German to play but he wasn’t 100 percent.
DeSoto went on to win its first state championship, completing a 16-0 season with a 38-29 win against Cibolo Steele in the Class 6A Division II title game.
“It was tough,” Ge’mon said about being on the field without German. “I had my ups and downs in games. I did grow up a little bit because of it as the season went.”
German had to grow from a different perspective.
“It was basically learning and coaching,” German said. “I was coaching my brother on the sideline, and I was learning from him also.”
Move to improve
DeSoto is 15 miles south of Dallas. The high school’s 10,000-seat stadium fits in perfectly with the Friday Night Lights aura of Texas prep football.
The Eagles have been one of the top programs in the state and count Super Bowl 50 MVP and three-time All-Pro linebacker Von Miller of the Denver Broncos among its alumni.
George Green saw potential in his sons as they developed through peewee and youth football. When George and Monday divorced, she moved from the eastern suburb of Mesquite to DeSoto, where the football was more competitive. George Green decided to follow and move to DeSoto in time for their sons’ freshman year of high school.
“Coming out of Mesquite, they were better than all the kids that they grew up with and played with, so I wanted them to be better as athletes,” George said. “When I chose DeSoto, I told them and I warned them that when you go to DeSoto, kids are going to be faster than you all, stronger than you all and this will probably be the first time you’ve played sports and didn’t start.
“That was an adjustment for them. I told them to be patient, work hard and once the coaches see you, what you can do and how much a leader you are on the field, that’s really going to make a big difference.”
‘We read each other’
The twins were on the varsity team as sophomores. Recruiters began taking notice. The knee injury sidetracked German’s junior season, but Ge’mon’s performance at cornerback made him more of a name on the recruiting trail. According to MaxPreps, he had 57 tackles, 2 interceptions and 25 pass breakups in 14 games.
In 2017, German was 100 percent healthy and showed it in his workouts. Ge’mon got his offer from the Wolverines in February and German’s came five weeks later. They committed on April 20, 2017, and made it official on Dec. 20, when they signed their national letters of intent. They loved the idea of playing for coach Jim Harbaugh.
“He’s a great coach,” Ge’mon said.
“He was a great quarterback, too,” German added quickly.
A little film study of Harbaugh the player surprised them regarding just how good he was.
“He could run, he could throw,” German said. “He was an athlete.”
German came back from his injury to make 42 tackles last season at safety. He added 1 interception, 3 pass breakups and 1 fumble recovery. Ge’mon earned a spot in The Opening Finals last summer and carried that performance over into the season. Opposing teams didn’t test him as much in 2017 but he still intercepted 3 passes, returning 1 for a touchdown, and broke up 6 other pass attempts.
“We read each other a lot,” German said. “We understand each other, and we’ll be thinking the same thing. We talk, and we make the play.”
Leaders, not followers
It used to be tough to tell the twins apart.
“You learn how to look for one particular thing,” former DeSoto coach Todd Peterman told Land of 10 last August. “For me, it’s the way the side of their hair is. When they’re wearing a helmet, it’s one is No. 9 [Ge’mon] and the other is No. 10 [German].”
German has made life simpler on everyone by changing his hairstyle to short dreadlocks, although his motivation stemmed from another reason.
“I got tired of waking up trying to do my hair,” German said. “I was tired of it, plus people were saying I should do something with it, and my dad was pressuring me to do something with it, so I had to change it. And I like it better. A lot of people like it better, actually.”
It’s not for Ge’mon.
“I can’t do it,” he said.
The twins won’t do everything together but it’s hard to separate them when it comes to football.
“Since Day 1, they’ve been playing with each other,” George Green said. “My whole thing raising them was being good young men as leaders and not followers. Everything else will take care of itself.”