Countdown to Blue-White / 21 Days: Is Glenn Carson Ready to Lead?
For two years, Glenn Carson has played the most important position on Penn State’s defense, yet still managed to go unnoticed at times, often overshadowed by bigger and more decorated names.
Now, as the revered Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges set their sights on NFL careers, it is up to the senior middle linebacker to help carry on the mantel of Linebacker U, surrounded by an inexperienced supporting cast.
On the field, Carson has quietly been doing his part for the past few seasons. The Manahawkin, New Jersey native immediately saw the field as a true freshman in 2010, playing in six games. After a solid 2011 season that included 66 tackles, Carson built on it with 85 tackles last fall including three tackles for loss and the only sack in the season opener against Ohio. In two contests, he led the Nittany Lions in tackles, including a game-high 13 in the season finale overtime victory against Wisconsin.
As the most experienced member of a thin linebacker core, the spotlight will shine brighter on Carson as he takes on added responsibility — something head coach Bill O’Brien believes he was always ready for.
“He’s not the forgotten man in the football building, not internally, I can tell you that,” said O’Brien halfway through the season in 2012. “He’s a big part of this defense, and I think he’s played good, tough football this year, so hopefully he can continue to improve and keep playing well…I hope we can recruit guys like him here every year because he’s all about football. He is prepared. He is coachable. He’s an extremely tough guy. He cares about the game, just one of those guys that you love being around. I can’t say enough about him.”
Another way to explain Carson being overlooked at times might be the lack of big plays. Through his first three seasons, he has failed to notch any interceptions or fumble recoveries, but Carson sees that play-making ability in the two linebackers slotted to play on either side of him.
“Mike [Hull] is probably one of the quickest linebackers we’ve had here. He has a real knack for getting to the ball,” said Carson. “Despite his size, he can get off blocks pretty well. I think he’s got it all. He pays attention to detail, and we pride ourselves on that. He gets into the film room and takes criticism well…Nyeem [Wartman] got a little playing time last year before he got hurt. He’s an athletic kid. I’m excited to watch him play and have all the confidence in the world that he’s going to step up and take a big role.”
Carson knows a new unit that has never played together before will not necessarily gel overnight, but he feels comfortable in his ability to help others.
“The whole team this year is really comfortable. We have a bunch of games under our belt, playing this kind of defense, so it’s much easier for us,” Carson said.
“There’s definitely a group of guys that played a lot of football for us, John Urschel, Glenn Carson, Adrian Amos, who certainly have leadership ability and were part of that leadership team last year,” O’Brien said.
Is Carson ready to emerge as a leader on the Nittany Lions defense?
His coach believes he already is one. Others outside of Lasch Building are finally going to see it too.
This is the thirteenth in a 33-day series about the Penn State football program leading up to the Blue-White Game on April 20. We’ve put together a team of football writers who will examine a variety of topics and answer key questions about Bill O’Brien’s team. Click here for past installments in the series.