“[After] every [set] in the weight room, I just look up and say, 'This is for you dad. I got you,'” Carrell said at Colorado's Media Day event on Friday. “Losing my mentor, my best friend, I am more aware of what my future is looking like. I am the last one with my last name, of the males [in my family], so I have to hold that torch and keep my legacy going strong.”
While Carrell still goes through his day-to-day activities with a heavy heart, feeling his father's presence watching over him has helped.
“I definitely feel he is with me every day,” he said. “I wear his bracelet. I have all of his stuff. Every day he is with me. I miss him. I definitely dedicate this season to him and I want to make him and the rest of my family proud.”
Carrell is no stranger to hard work. He has taken the long road to get to this point as a football player. An offensive lineman in high school, he got recruited to American River College to play on the offensive line there. But Carrell found his niche there on the defensive line. He developed into a Junior College All-American in 2014 before signing with the Buffaloes.
Carrell played 82.6 percent of Colorado's total defensive snaps last season, the sixth-highest percentage by a defensive lineman since they started tracking plays in 1987. He finished with 52 tackles, eight tackles for a loss and 11 quarterback hurries.
“I feel like I put in the work to earn my playing time [last season]. But this year we definitely have more depth so I hope to bring the snaps down a little bit more and make some more plays,” Carrell said.
His main focus this off-season has been on shoring up his tackling technique. Carrell has also tried to develop a stronger bond with his defensive line mates. Having Josh Tupou back on campus and next to him at the nose tackle spot certainty provides some comfort.
“He is an animal,” Carrell said of Tupou. “He brings a lot of passion and he is a true leader on our defensive line. People look up to him. I wouldn't want to make him mad. … He plugs up the middle well so it is definitely a big help.”
Phil Steele’s College Football selected Carrell as a preseason fourth-team All-Pac-12 performer. Five other Colorado defenders – Chidobe Awuzie, Tedric Thompson, Derek McCartney, Tupou and Addison Gillam – were named to the same list as second, third or fourth-team preseason selections.
“Our defense is definitely going to be live this year,” Carrell said. “[We] made a  spot jump in the [scoring defense] rankings [to No. 70 in 2015]. We hope to make another 50 point jump this year, if not better. We have some confidence. We have alertness to what is going on.”