Not many true freshman offensive lineman playing at a Division I level get a chance to start. Usually they’re just not physically ready. And if they’re physically ready, then they’re not mentally ready. A freshman usually spends more time in the weight and film room than on the actual field. Ethan Greenidge, however, is defying the odds.

After being a key cog on the Riverhead offensive line for multiple championship seasons, Greenidge, who now plays offensive tackle for the University of Villanova has been given his chance. Because of starter Jake Prus donating bone marrow as part of the Be the Match marrow program, Greenidge will get the start against Fordham University today at 6 p.m. Watch the game live here.

“Physically, he’s ready,” Wildcats head coach Andy Talley told “It’s just whether he’ll be able to handle series after series, and we won’t really know that until we get there.”

There’s no question that Greenidge, who turned 18 on Thursday, has the size, listed at 6’4″ 345 pounds. Time to put that size to work, even if it’s earlier than expected.

Ethan Greenidge at Riverhead High School on the day he signed to play at Villanova on a football scholarship
Ethan Greenidge at Riverhead High School on the day he signed to play at Villanova on a football scholarship

“I didn’t think I had any chance to play this year because of the adjustment from high school to college,” Greenidge said. “I thought I was going to get redshirted but my hope was that I wasn’t going to. The coaches liked my athleticism in camp and I tried to show as much promise as I could.”

Greenidge has been learning a great deal under the guidance of Prus, the junior starter at right tackle along with the starting left tackle, Brad Seaton. He’s been able to pick their brain throughout the early stages of his career. Prus will be out of commission for a few weeks after the procedure, opening the door for Greenidge to get real experience under his belt.

“(Prus) is a great guy,” Greenidge said. “He was a match for a bone marrow transplant and he told coach that he wanted to do it because saving a life was more important than football. When I found out that he was out and that I won the job in practice, Jake helped me learn all the plays better and told me what he would do for certain situations. But all the lineman helped.

“Brad would help me with the technique of a college lineman and Prus would watch film with me and help me mentally,” Greenidge continued.

Coming out of preseason camp however, Greenidge actually landed the sixth lineman spot. That meant if anyone would go down or need a break during the season, Greenidge would step in. A few weeks before the season officially started, Prus got the call about the match so Greenidge knew his time would come.

“I started getting mentally ready and started having meetings with the coach,” Greenidge said. “But I still competed with a sophomore to get the spot going into this week. The coaches really believe in me and think I can do big things.”

After being told this week that he would be the starter, the mental game began but Greenidge truly believes he’s ready.

“My job is to get the assignment done,” Greenidge said. “Coach Talley told me that I’m physically ready and that I just need to get the mental part of the game down. The offensive line coach, Mark Ferrante and Coach Talley have been here longer than 20 years so if they think a freshman like me is ready, then I am. It’s just up to me to get the job done.”

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