PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Kendrick Green said he would celebrate being selected in the third round of he NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers for a couple of days.
He did. But now it’s time to get back to work.
“I still have a lot to prove. I want to be one of the best in the NFL now, that’s my goal,” Green said. “I have to come to work everyday with that chip on my shoulder and grind like everyone else.”
The Steelers made Green the 87th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on Friday night. And the University of Illinois All-American offensive lineman says the Steelers will give him his requested number, 53.
He first started wearing 53 when he was a Junior Football Player in Peoria. Soon he’ll meet his new team in Pittsburgh but he’s not forgetting Peoria.
“This s home, where I’m from,” Green said. “I take a piece of Peoria with me wherever I go. I’m thankful to be form here and call this home.”
Peoria has long been known as a basketball town. A city where kids grow up dribbling a basketball, earn Division 1 scholarships and, like Shaun Livingston, even win NBA championships.
But with Lacale London and Sherrick McManis with the Bears and now Green drafted by the Steelers, the soon-to-be NFL rookie thinks that idea needs an update.
“We changed that narrative when I was in high school with Coach (Tim) Thornton,” said Green.
Green and the Peoria High Lions won the 2016 state title in Illinois.
“(Thornton) changed it to a football school from a basketball school. When you think Peoria High School, you think basketball but we’re trying to change that narrative for the whole city,” Green said.
Thornton is just happy another one of his players, like London and Josh Augusta, is getting a shot at his NFL dreams.
“There’s still a couple guys that are playing college football right now that will have an opportunity (in the NFL) as well,” Thorton said. “I think it’s OK to be both.”
He’s leaving Peoria for Pittsburgh, but Green says he’s eager to represent his hometown in the National Football League.