Like many Canadian university athletes, Alfred Green has been stuck at home for the past 13 months, forced away from the sport he loves.
The 23-year-old recorded 41 tackles and four sacks, three coming in the 2019 season alone, and forced three fumbles, recovering one, in a four-year career at Wilfrid Laurier University. He’s also found success with his clothing company, SEEKER. by Lefdra.
In his freshman season, which saw the team win the 2016 Yates Cup, Green was inspired by teammate Emerson Gourdet, who had been successfully selling his own Rare Apex branded hats to the school community.
“The way you can brand yourself at Laurier was something I really picked up from him,” said the six-foot-two, 242-pound former Durham Dolphin, during a phone interview from his house in Waterloo. “I’ve basically been trying to follow in his footsteps.”
During his time off, the defensive lineman focused on building up his graphic design skills at his family home in Ajax, Ont., teaching himself how to use the Adobe Creative Suite.
The hard work has opened up a new career path for Green, who has been doing freelance graphic design work for the Laurier football team and other clients, and has an internship lined up in the art department of an advertising agency.
“Honestly, if football ended today, that’s what I’d want to do for the rest of my life,” said Green.
But Green does want to continue his football career. It’s why he entered the CFL Draft this year, which will take place on Tuesday, May 4.
Green could have opted to return to school for another year, and enter the draft in 2022. Instead, he elected to continue on the path he had previously set out, including training for the combine with Laurier strength and conditioning coach Jesse Collins for the past few months.
A breakout 2019 season garnered national attention for Green, but the opportunity to showcase his talents against fellow CFL hopefuls at the annual U Sports East-West Bowl was stripped by the pandemic.
Without others to compete against, he instead called upon a former teammate for motivation.
“I told Robbie (Smith) to send me his (combine) numbers when I started my training sessions,” said the younger of the two defensive linemen. “And I’ve just been working so hard to beat Robbie.”
In the unofficial results submitted to CFL teams for evaluation, and shared by Collins, Green matched Smith’s 3-cone time (7.34 seconds), and was only one tenth off of his 40-yard dash time on the first attempt, before tweaking his hamstring on the second.
Green is the latest in a long line of talented defensive linemen to come through the Laurier program, with current CFLers Smith and Kwaku Boateng setting the bar high.
“He got to see Kwaku firsthand, and then he got to see what a hard worker Robbie Smith was, and how hard he worked in the weight room,” said Laurier head coach Michael Faulds. “And a lot of that rubbed off on him.”
Instead of sulking on the sidelines as many would have, Green took a long-term approach to his development.
“Even if someone’s better than me at something now, at some point they might not be,” said the young football player. “I just keep on working and keep on trying my best to excel and get better all the time.”
Away from the game, Green loves to have fun. Some around the program even characterize him as “kind of a class clown,” according to Faulds.
“But on the field, he’s an extremely hard worker with a little bit of a nasty side,” said the coach. “Even if there’s an offensive lineman that’s 320 pounds, Alfred doesn’t shy away.”
Green’s ability to flip the switch for three hours every Saturday afternoon during his OUA career is a reason why his coach says CFL scouts are interested, but one which he hasn’t been able to display recently.
“When I’m on the football field I’m not playing any more games. I might be a little bit jokey and talking on the field,” said the hunting enthusiast, “but every time I go there, I’m trying to destroy the person in front of me.”
Although he also has ties to the B.C. Lions and Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Green has bought into the “Toronto Golden Hawks” hype, even purchasing an Argonauts hat a year ago that he sometimes trains in for extra motivation.
The Argos drafted fellow defensive lineman Robbie Smith and receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. in the first and second rounds in 2019, and chose defensive tackle Sam Acheampong in the second round last year.
Coach Faulds believes Green will hear his name called by one of the nine CFL teams on draft night, but if he doesn’t, Green still retains the ability to return to Laurier for another year, and has a budding career as a graphic designer to fall back upon.