NAPERVILLE – At some point in a football career, a player has to make a choice of what position to play full time if they continue to move up levels in the sport.
Ethan Greenfield is one of those players who faced that choice when he arrived at North Central College as a freshman.
The Lindenhurst native played linebacker and safety at Lakes High School but was also a running back his senior season, so he had a choice when he started his college career with the Cardinals.
“When I came here, coach (Jeff) Thorne asked me what position I wanted to play, and I told him wherever the team needs help, and it ended up being at running back,” said Greenfield. “Good thing he kept me there because it ended up ending pretty well.”
That might be an understatement for the senior running back, who is one of the most productive at his position in college football and is considered by many to be the best in Division III.
Heading into North Central’s game against Millikin on Saturday, Greenfield has rushed for 5,352 yards with a 7.3 per carry and 127.4 average per game in his career. In 2019 and 2021, he led Division III in rushing, including a 2,169 yard season in that 2019 campaign as the Cardinals won the national championship.
His 138 yards and three touchdowns against UW-Whitewater earned him the title game’s Most Valuable Player award.
Heading into Saturday’s game against Millikin, Greenfield has 670 yards in five contests in 2022 with what so far would be a career-high per carry average of 8.2 with 11 touchdowns. He’s broken the CCIW conference record for rushing in a career and is once again in the running to lead the nation in that category.
Greenfield credited his teammates in an interview with WGN News Now, praising the offensive line specifically for aiding his very successful career.
“I’m very grateful,” said Greenfield on the decision to play running back and the results the last few years. “If you told me five years ago that I’d be where I am right now with what I’ve done in the program, I’d have a little bit of a hard time believing that just because sometimes you doubt yourself a little bit, but the best was pulled out of me by my teammates and my coaches and I’m very glad I was kept where I am to help the team and help us do what we’ve done.
“It’s been an amazing journey and I’m glad it went this way.”
Larry Hawley had more on Greenfield on this week’s edition of “Campus Check-In” on WGN News Now, and you can watch that in the video above.