Finding out Nick Saban wants to see you in his office is probably comparable to being summoned by the school principal. So much uncertainty, thinking up all the things you could have done to get into trouble.
Tinker had no idea this was coming.
"I was like, ‘What possibly could it be?'" he said.
Tinker smiled as he recalled the visit.
"He just said, ‘You know, we have an extra scholarship available. We'd like you to have it,'" Tinker said. "I said, ‘Thanks, Coach.' And gave him a hug. I think that made him feel a little awkward."
Tuesday after practice, Saban informed the rest of the team of his decision.
"We're very excited that we're able to award a guy that has been such a positive influence in so many ways—personally, academically and athletically in our program," Saban said.
The first people Tinker told were his parents. He said receiving this scholarship is a "blessing" for his family.
"They were fired up," he said. "It's a big relief on them. They can kind of focus on things financially that they've been wanting to focus on."
Tinker, who graduated this summer and is now working on a master's degree in marketing, has become one of the most recognizable faces on the Alabama football team ever since a tornado slashed through Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011. Tinker's girlfriend, Ashley Harrison, was among the victims.
On Dec. 8, 2011, Tinker accepted the Disney Spirit Award on behalf of the Crimson Tide. Saban has often said that that moment—not winning the national championship—was his proudest of last season.
In the aftermath of the tornado, Tinker became an inspiration as his story was brought into the national spotlight.
"I've said this a long time ago and it's been my mantra: To be a blessing to people," Tinker said. "That's something I try to do every day. Look to be a blessing to somebody."
Added quarterback A.J. McCarron: "I'm happy for him. The guy has worked hard. Carson has been through a lot and he's bounced back really well from everything he's been through and all that life's thrown at him, all the adversity. He's done a great job of handling everything. He's definitely an outspoken leader for the special teams, on the field and off the field. I think he gets the attention of a lot of guys."
Tinker received some unwanted attention during the offseason when his father Carleton knocked over the $30,000 Waterford Crystal football known as the Coaches' Trophy. Tinker joked that that money won't be coming out of his scholarship, or at least he hopes not.
"He can laugh about it," Carson said. "Actually heard on Squad Sunday, Barrett Jones talked about it. He talked about how everything that we had worked for, it just was gone instantly like that. He was embarrassed. He didn't want to embarrass me. I never really let it get to me. I laughed. It's like, ‘Come on, dad.' We always make fun of him now."
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