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LC Greenwood on Transition from Receiver to Linebacker: ‘I Can Help the Defense’

A position change for opportunity may prove to be a win for OSU’s defense.

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He was born Shamond Syrese Greenwood, but the name he goes by, “LC,” would cause confusion for most outside of Oklahoma State’s fan base. He shares a name, but no relation, with the former NFL defensive end and member of the famous “Steel Curtain” defense that helped the Pittsburgh Steelers secure four Super Bowl wins from 1975 to 1980.

Now the two have something else in common.

Greenwood started off his Cowboy career, of course, at the bottom of a deep and talented wide receiver depth chart. After redshirting in 2017 and then only playing sparingly in 2018, Greenwood, the two-way player in high school, made a decision to effect change on his own career path — the ambitious conversion to defense.

“He came in and wanted to make the move,” said Mike Gundy after OSU’s open spring practice.

Greenwood began this spring listed as a practice squad player on offense and finished it as at least an intriguing linebacker prospect with a shot to push for reps this fall. The wideout who caught a touchdown in last year’s spring scrimmage, lined up on defense during this year’s open practice (though he had yet to make the switch from No. 81).

“He felt like that maybe he’d hit a dead end at the wideout spot, so he wanted to make a move to that side of the ball,” Gundy said. “He played both ways in high school.”

His size at 6-3 and 212 isn’t quite the 6-6, 245 that the now departed former LC used to terrorize NFL quarterbacks for over a decade, but it instantly made him OSU’s tallest linebacker with room to fill out. And this Greenwood has something that isn’t all that common among defenders (and something you can’t teach), legit 4.4 speed.

Coming out of high school, scouts tabbed him a big physical blocker, so it appears he’s never been afraid of contact, and his own head coach saw him adding more weight when he signed. During his 2017 signing day press conference Gundy declared, “He’s a big man that’s going to play at 230.” Greenwood will likely spend the summer trying to get closer to that number now that he’s made the switch.

The lack of experienced depth at linebacker was likely a motivating factor for the position change. Even with the departure of Tyron Johnson, Greenwood faced a logjam on the outside that included the more experienced Patrick McKaufman, the up-and-comer C.J. Moore, the also speedy Braydon Johnson and others. At LB, the depth chart behind No. 1 is much less defined.

But the transition from a finesse role, even for the most physical receiver, to a hit-hungry linebacker is not instantaneous.

“Just being here for a long time, I feel I have gotten bigger and stronger,” Greenwood said. “I like to hit now. … I feel I can help the defense.

“The first week … it was tough, I’m not going to lie. Getting to learn this stuff, watching extra film, I’m getting it more and more each day.”

Gundy says Greenwood basically had to start from scratch, but there will be more time to catch up this fall.

“It’s way too early to tell,” Gundy said. “He’s just trying to get lined up right now. So we should know a lot more three weeks into August. He’s just trying to figure it out.”

If he can figure it out — and that may be a big if — Greenwood possesses the type of speed and reach that rarely sees the field for linebackers at OSU. And Jim Knowles and his squad can use all the help they can get.