Blue-collar mindset allows Greenberry to thrive
Sophomore receiver Deontay Greenberry frequently wears a red hard hat around the Athletics/Alumni Center. He said it illustrates that “it’s time to go to work.”
Greenberry, UH’s first five-star recruit, hasn’t disappointed. This season, he has already eclipsed his receiving yard total and touchdowns from his freshman season and has developed into the Cougars’ top receiver.
However, after his senior season in high school, Greenberry was close to frequenting a different university’s building.
On the night before National Signing Day, Greenberry was still contemplating where he was going to attend college.
Greenberry said he planned to play at Notre Dame. One of his incentives was that his cousin, Tee Shepard, had signed that winter.
He also built a rapport with UH special teams coordinator Jamie Christian, who had recruited Greenberry since he was a sophomore in high school.
“He and I had a pretty strong relationship,” Christian said. “I think he felt comfortable with me, and when it was time to make that big decision in his life, he felt like he could trust me.”
Greenberry made his visit to UH the weekend before signing day.
“I just fell in love with (UH). It felt like home,” Greenberry said.
So Greenberry called Christian for advice.
“I respect whatever decision you make. But if you come here, I’ll make sure you’ll get an opportunity to make plays, get your degree and have an opportunity to become a man,” Christian said he told Greenberry.
After he made his decision to come to UH, Greenberry had to endure some learning curves and realize the difference between high school and college.
In an August practice last season, Greenberry was lined up against former UH cornerback D.J. Hayden. With Hayden playing off-coverage, Greenberry knew he wasn’t going to run by him, so after he ran five yards, he decided to slow down his route, “throw his hands up” and expect a jump ball. The pass was incomplete.
“I had to explain to him by saying, ‘Look now, there are other talented guys, if not more talented, who will line up across from you,’” said receivers coach Brandon Middleton, who played receiver in the NFL for five seasons. “You’ve got to add a lot more technique and skill behind your natural ability.’
“It’s really difficult for receivers to be able to do because we want the ball all the time.”
Greenberry met shortly afterward with head coach Tony Levine in his office to discuss his development.
“He told me, how I’m playing right now, I’m going to look back on film and say ‘wow, I didn’t know I was that horrible,’” Greenberry said jokingly.
Since the move from outside to inside receiver, Greenberry has added 15 pounds and has blossomed into a legitimate threat by averaging more than 112 receiving yards per game.
“I’ve keyed into whatever my coaches have taught me and be prepared to go against whatever defense,” Greenberry said. “I’m paying more attention to the details that (the coaches) are trying to teach us.”
Levine brought Greenberry back to his office to discuss the same meeting they had in 2012.
“He and I met in my office a few weeks ago, had that same conversation and he completely agreed,” Levine said. “He’s night and day from what he was a year ago, and I expect even next year he’ll be even better.”