Lawrence took over the South Sumter program this spring after nearly 20 years in the coaching ranks, so he’s seen his fair share of Florida talent. The longtime prep coach believes the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Carson Wells has what it takes to someday walk to the 50-yard line as a captain of the Buffaloes.
This story of Colorado’s connection to South Sumter starts with a former Pepsi-swelling defensive coordinator. CU’s Jim Leavitt has been a regular on South Sumter’s campus for years, long before the black and gold.
“We’re a community that’s big on team and small on ‘me.’ We’ve had a lot of kids who’ve gone to big-time schools and [Wells] just adds to the list,” Lawrence said.
“We’ve had lots of schools come by, a bunch of schools in the spring. I think somewhere from 40 to 50 schools came by in the spring. We’ve known coach Leavitt for years. We love coach Leavitt. We know when our kids go to coach Leavitt they’re taken care of, we know they’re going to be coached hard and they’re going to become better men.”
Lawrence spoke highly of Leavitt, especially about the energy the coordinator brings to a high school campus, Pepsi or not. Leavitt’s link to the Bushnell school goes back to the early 1990s when it was all about the royal purple.
“[Leavitt] recruited me out of high school back in ’93 when he was at Kansas State. He’s always come to South Sumter for years when he was at K-State and USF. He signed, I don’t know, six or seven of our kids when he was at USF. Most were captains, one was an All-American,” Lawrence continued.
“He knows what he’s getting when he gets one of our kids. He’s getting a hard-working kid who’s not going to get into trouble in college, be a captain-type person. That’s why he keeps coming back to our school. I hope that’s the reason he comes back to our school.”
Wells projects as a linebacker at the collegiate level, with that prognostication coming from CU’s DC. Wells will spend the majority of his senior season with his hand in the dirt, but those hoping the CU commit will gain valuable experience at LB can breathe easy. South Sumter features a handful of packages where the 2017 prospect switches to middle linebacker.
“We’re going to play him at the defensive end position, we run the 3-3 stack defense. His freshman year he played linebacker, the last two seasons he’s played defensive end,” Lawrence said.
“He can play. When Carson came out to visit he worked with coach Leavitt at linebacker. Carson is a big kid who can actually run. He’s at high 4.6, low 4.7 kid.”
Back to that ceiling part: Lawrence said Wells will continue to develop, rounding into a Power-5 defender. In order to rush order that maturation the future Buff will need to hit the weights. Focusing on one sport will also make the two-star (three-star?) a better football player.
“He’s still going to grow, he’s going to get bigger. He’ll be 17 years old on Signing Day. He’s a young kid, he’s got some growing to do. He hasn’t reached his ceiling yet,” Lawrence continued on Wells, adding the CU commit spends his free time digging holes and roping cattle on his father’s ranch. Hard worker.
“One thing he’s going to need to improve on is his overall strength. He plays so many sports. We’re a school where we share our kids with different sports; our kids don’t concentrate on one sport. That’s not common these days. Straight of football he goes to basketball. Straight out of basketball he goes to track. By the time track is over we’re starting spring football again. He hasn’t had that full year in the weight room, getting after it.”
While Wells’ sheet is lacking, at the moment, a major P5 presence, Lawrence thinks big offers could roll in this fall. The offers the 2017 prospect holds are good ones on paper and equally as important, on the field.
“USF offered him a couple weeks ago. … Air Force … every offer Carson has is a good school. He wasn’t going to make a bad pick. He’s a smart enough kid, he’s going to be successful whatever he chooses to do,” Lawrence said.
“I really don’t know. We’re a small town; maybe that’s a reason why. I don’t know … but he had some high-level, academy offers,” Lawrence continued on P5 offers for Wells.
The South Sumter program takes pride in producing young men of upstanding character. The way Lawrence speaks, it’s definitely team over me in Bushnell, population 3,000ish.
“We’re a team that’s been successful over the years. The reason we have been is our kids who go D-1, they’re all team kids. The recruiting will take care of itself,” Lawrence said.
“Colorado is getting a good kid with Carson. He’s a kid who can play and he’s a high-character kid.”