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Ryan Mallett remembered as ‘more than a quarterback’ by former Arkansas Razorbacks running back Broderick Green

The former Pulaski Academy star running back first met Mallett at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl
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By Nate Olson | Photo by Jimmy Jones 

When former Arkansas running back Broderick Green hit the end zone, he knew quarterback Ryan Mallett would soon meet him. 

“He was always one of the first guys to celebrate with me,” the former Pulaski Academy standout recounted. “He’d sprint down there to congratulate me and tap me on the helmet. He was a high-energy guy. He was a great person. He was more than a quarterback.”

The memories of a friendship that began in high school came flooding back to Green on Tuesday when it was reported that Mallett had drowned off the coast of Florida Tuesday afternoon.

Green is the running backs coach at Liberty North (Mo.) High School and was traveling to a 7-on-7 tournament with fellow Eagles staff members when the news broke.

“One of the coaches said, ‘Do you know Ryan Mallett?” I said, ‘Yeah, that is my boy. Why do you ask?’ He said, ‘I think he might have passed.’ I said, ‘No way; you are joking.’”

The coach was reading a report on social media, and Green asked him to send the link. When Green read it, he saw the time stamp was two minutes prior. He realized the news was just being reported.

“About two minutes after that, I started getting text messages and calls from teammates,” Green said. “Nobody could believe it. We were all just stunned and numb. It didn’t seem real. I told [the coaches] I was just about to call him.”

As Green took the field with his team to warm up, he was overcome with emotion and eventually excused from the tournament.

“I broke down and told [the staff] I wasn’t mentally prepared. My head coach just told me go home and take care of myself and family and friends,” Green said. “I couldn’t continue. It was like losing a brother. Really tough.”

Green, from Little Rock, and Mallett, from Texarkana, Texas, met at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl after standout senior seasons.

That friendship continued as Mallett went to Michigan and Green to USC. After one season in California, Green was granted a hardship to transfer immediately back to his home state. Mallett had to sit out a season after his transfer, but as soon as they became teammates again, their friendship became stronger.

“We kept in touch and talked on the phone after the all-star game,” Green said. “I remember talking to him when I was getting cleared, and he was transferring and then sitting out.”

Both players graduated in 2007. Mallett played as a true freshman for the Wolverines, but Green redshirted at USC. He began his collegiate career in 2008, when Mallett had transferred to Arkansas and was sitting out.

The duo shared the same backfield for the 2009 and 2010 seasons before Mallett bolted for the NFL. Green played one final season for the Hogs in 2011.

“As soon as we were together, it was open arms,” Green said. “We had been friends since we were teenagers, but it was even better being teammates. We were even tighter once we linked up that January.”

When they played regularly together, Green marveled over how easy his friend made it look playing quarterback at a high level in the SEC.

“When people ask who the best quarterback I played with was, no offense to my other teammates, but I always say, ‘Ryan Mallett, hands down,’” Green said. “The game came so easy to him. He was really smooth, and he could just stand there and throw the ball 80 or 90 yards down the field effortless.”


But Green might have been more impressed with Mallett’s leadership qualities under center.

“He was a great teammate and a guy that would always laugh with you and never showed one ounce of cockiness,” Green said. “If you ever made a mistake, he had your back, and he always went to bat for you. He was just a great person to be around and one of the leaders we looked to on our football team.”

After a seven-year career in the NFL, Mallett was at a crossroads. He decided to pursue coaching, and after a short career in business in Northwest Arkansas, Green decided to do the same. They took the teacher certification course together.

“That was fun, and he was just excited to be getting into coaching,” Green said.

Mallett landed a job as the Mountain Home offensive coordinator in the spring of 2020 and after two seasons with the Bombers, helping to improve the offense, White Hall hired him in 2022 to take over for the legendary Bobby Bolding, who guided the Bulldogs to the 2021 Class 5A state championship game.

“He called me and was so excited to get [the White Hall job],” Green said. “He was talking about hiring some of our teammates. He was over the moon. I told him he had my full support, and I would do whatever I could to help him. 

“I would get texts from him at 4:45 in the morning, and I’d ask him why he was doing that, and he said now that he was a head coach, he had to get up early. He would send me different things about football. He was just so glad to be a head coach. I would tell him I didn’t need to get up that early!“ 

Mallett wound up hiring former Razorbacks star receiver Jarius Wright to fill the offensive coordinator job for one season.

Wright was one of many former teammates who expressed condolences via social media Tuesday. While Green was eager to pay tribute to his friend, former Hogs receiver Cobi Hamilton and tight end DJ Williams, who played briefly in the NFL and is a Little Rock morning TV show host, declined to be interviewed when contacted.

“We all had a closeness with Ryan, but those guys had a tight bond with him, and I think it hits closer to home with them,” Green said. “I understand how that would hurt.”

Green said he had conversations Tuesday with fellow former Razorbacks running backs De’Anthony Curtis and Knile Davis.

“We are all just saddened and numb,” Green said. “[Mallett] was just a legend. He was also just a great guy and friend.”