Whether it's painting or playing sports, George Mason senior running back/defensive back Travis Greene has one thing on his mind: the zone.
He found it when he painted a 20x14-foot portrait of soul singer Luther Vandross as a gift for his mom last Mother's Day.
He found it again when he won the Virginia A state championship last spring in the long jump.
He found it most recently last weekend, when Greene lit up Stuart for a career-high 196 yards rushing and two touchdowns in a 35-6 Mustangs win.
"I've always been a calm, quiet person and just want to be in my own zone," Greene said. "When I'm there, I feel like I just go with the flow of things. That's how I know I'm going to have a good game. I just got to go with the flow."
Things have been flowing well for both Greene and the Mustangs (2-0) this football season. In the Stuart win, George Mason's first game against a AAA opponent in more than 20 years, Greene didn't even rack up half of the team's 500 rushing yards. Two weeks ago, Greene notched 118 yards on the ground and the defense sparkled in the team's shutout of a AA opponent, Loudoun County school Dominion, 31-0.
George Mason Coach Tom Horn is impressed with the way Greene handles the high expectations the football team has placed on him -- Greene has started at running back since the beginning of his sophomore year -- and still finds time to enjoy his other endeavors.
"Travis has got a perspective on things that's beyond the normal athlete," Horn said. "If we want him to be in the weight room, he'll get there, but he might do it on his own time instead. He likes to experiment and explore lots of different things, so we encourage that."
As an artist, Greene specializes in drawing and painting facial features, hence the portrait of which he is most proud: the study of Vandross. Greene said he spends so much time painting because it excites him.
"I like to express myself in different ways," he said.
Still, football has a more direct impact on his future. Greene hopes to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Michael, a 1996 Mustangs graduate, who walked on at Virginia for two seasons. Plenty of strong I-AA schools, such as Delaware, James Madison and Lehigh, are interested in Greene, who is also considering competing in the long jump in college.
More immediately, Greene is focused on this football season with many tough games left on the schedule, starting as early as tomorrow against Stonewall-Mount Jackson. In George Mason's district, the Bull Run, lurks defending Division 2 state champion Manassas Park, which the Mustangs face on Nov. 4.
Greene "is a kid that you have to account for," Manassas Park Coach Jeff Lloyd said. "He can take a three- to four-yard run and break it all the way. We'll be trying our best to stop him."