LB Glenn Carson is Living Up to the Challenge
Glenn Carson Jr. was a standout high school football player and wrestler, just as his father and namesake was before him. A three-time state finalist during his time at Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, NJ, Carson could have chosen a collegiate wrestling career. But instead he was recruited by Joe Paterno to come play football for the Nittany Lions, and thus far it looks like he made a great decision.
Carson was a starter on the linebacker unit by his sophomore year, tallying a fourth-best 74 tackles and forcing two fumbles. In his junior season in 2012, Carson posted 85 tackles, good for third on a defense that was ranked 16th in the nation.
But it’s in his third year as a starter that Carson seems to really be embracing his leadership role on the defense. With predecessors Mike Mauti and Gerald Hodges departing for the NFL, Carson is now the most tenured linebacker on the team and has stepped up big time in the first two games of the 2013 season.
“I never really felt any pressure to step up and be a leader,” Carson said. “I’ve been the starting middle linebacker for three years now. I’ve been very comfortable being in the spotlight, being a leader, so its been a smooth transition for me.”
If there’s one person a football player wants to have complimenting his game and his character, it’s his head coach. Every time the Glenn Carson comes up, Bill O’Brien can’t help but gush about the senior linebacker.
“You can’t say enough good things about Glenn Carson,” Bill O’Brien said Tuesday. “He’s a guy that received the player of the game distinction for the Syracuse game. Then in this past weekend against Eastern Michigan he received special mention from our staff and from myself for how he played. He’s a tough guy and he’s worked hard to improve. He’s quicker, he’s faster and he’s stronger.”
Not only is Carson faster in the physical sense of the word when he’s on the football field, but he’s also become faster mentally as he’s gained experience through his three years in charge in Happy Valley.
“I just feel a little more confident,” he said. “The game has slowed down for me. I’m playing a little more reckless than I have in the past. I was always afraid to make mistakes and stuff. I’m just playing a little bit looser out there.”
Some might think that being the starting middle linebacker at a school that has been nickname “Linebacker U” for churning out a laundry list of strong players at the position would be a high pressure position. But not for Carson, not even when he’s on the field.
“It takes some discipline, but you just really have to calm your nerves and not get too excited,” he said. “Everybody finds a different way to prepare themselves for game time. You just have to find your own bliss.”
Nothing about Carson’s play brings the word blissful to mind though. He’s an extremely physical and tough player that does his best to punish opposing running backs all game long. A lot of that mentality has come from his father, Glenn Carson Sr., who played linebacker at The College of New Jersey back in the day.
“My dad was a little smaller than me,” Carson said, “He was an All-American in football and an All-American wrestler. Just hearing stories from his day, back then you would tear your ACL and they would just tape it up and you would go back in the game. He’s always been a role model for me and he taught me to be tough and physical out there.”
Going into his senior year, Carson has really embraced the “Next Level” motto that Bill O’Brien has instilled in his football team. O’Brien has urged players to take their game to the next level and constantly speaks about it when discussing his players. Carson has done just that early in his final season as a Nittany Lion.
“I think I’ve improved a little bit in the passing game,” Carson said. “Just being a veteran and being around the defense for a while now, I’ve really gotten to understand the concepts. And working hard with Coach Fitzgerald in the weight room has helped me a lot with speed.”
This might be his last year at Penn State, but if Carson and his coach have anything to say about it, this won’t be the last time you see him on a football field.
“He believes, and I believe, he has a future in football,” O’Brien said. “He’s gone out there in the first two games and done an excellent job of playing good, tough, physical Penn State football.”
Something tells me that he’ll be doing a lot of that this season.