Can you give us a brief intro to Owen Carney the person?
I’m just about progressing and taking it one day at a time. I’m blessed to be playing a game that I really love and I take advantage every time that I get a chance to play it whether it be in the weight room or at home or having the opportunity to go out of town through football, I’m just lucky to be playing the game.
I have a cousin who also plays, he’s at South Carolina right now and I have another cousin that plays at Kansas State. I have a brother also at UM, also my Uncle played at Kent State, that’s pretty much it.
Have you always played on the defensive side of the ball?
Yeah, I have.
When do you think you knew that your football ability was going to be able to take you to college?
I knew after my first JV game in 9th grade. I think it was the first play of the game and I got a sack/fumble and I told myself, “I really like this a lot.” I always liked watching the game but I always had that question in my mind was I going to be able to do what I see, but when I went out there and did it, I always had motivation. Even when I had to lose weight, I always was strong-minded, so the motivation was always there.
Were you always a defensive end/lineman?
Before I used to play with the older guys, I played linebacker and then as I got moved up with the older guys, they obviously put the worst athletes on the offensive and defensive lines, so when I was playing up with older guys I went to the defensive line.
How did your high school utilize you as a player last year and how are they projecting to play you this season?
Last year I played defensive end mainly, and there were some plays on 3rd down where I’d go to Tackle and there were some plays where I played the 3-technique or the 5-technique.
This year coming up they are going to get me a couple drops per game into coverage, there should be a little more diversity on my film this season. My natural position is at defensive end.
Do you enjoy the pass rush or defending the run game more?
I like to do both of them, I want to make plays, I don’t discriminate. So if the line is bigger, I like working my way through blocks and tackling for a loss. I like making big plays and causing guys to have big losses.
Let’s talk role in college. Have you observed with the schools you consider to be towards the top of your list a big difference in your projected role at each of those programs?
It’s different with a whole bunch of schools. Like with Duke, I would play D-End and Illinois I would definitely play D_End with my hand down. But then at LSU I would be a linebacker probably half the time and then I’d have some rush and drops as well from the outside. Then like at Louisville I would play outside linebacker. Miami I’d be defensive end, let’s see, USF I’d be a defensive end, Tennessee kinda wants me as an outside linebacker/defensive end and Arkansas has a similar view, kinda like I’m a tweener who rushes and drops back.
How are you trying to figure out how you feel about those different pitches in terms of expected roles at the different programs? Is there one position that you think you are more ideally suited for in college?
I know last year I was heavy on playing defensive end at the next level, but then I went to some camps this past month and I got drops at linebacker in those camps and as things went on, I think I got better at it. So I can picture myself getting drops in college, so I’m coming, it doesn’t matter in my mind where I get played, but I know I’m more dominant right now at defensive end, especially since I’ve been doing it for longer.
Have these camps enabled you to get updated height and weight and timed speed measurements?
Yes sir. I measured recently at 6’3 and a half, 242 and when I ran at LSU camp, I ran a 4.75 40. I think my wingspan, I’m not 100% for sure on that.
Do you have any camps lined up for the rest of this summer, or even just unofficial visits in general?
I was supposed to be going out sometime in the middle of July and I know for sure Georgia I’m going to, Tennessee, Louisville and there’s some others, those are the ones I know for sure.
Which programs would you say have given you a firm, committable scholarship offer and which ones are showing strong interest in you but haven’t offered you yet?
Committable offers that I can commit on the spot I would say Mississippi State, Duke, Illinois, USF, Miami, Indiana, Purdue, Cal, Kansas State, I want to say LSU but I’m not 100% for sure on that, I’d probably have to talk with the coaches about that. Let’s see who else, oh, Tennessee, Arkansas, that’s it right now. I haven’t received an offer yet from FSU, Florida, Alabama, USC, South Carolina, North Carolina, Auburn, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State.
So from that second group, have any given you any indication that they are seriously evaluating you for a potential scholarship offer?
Well, I know Alabama is seriously evaluating me, I got a lot of good recognition when I went there and my position coach there told me I did really well in camp. If an offer were to come that’d be great, but I don’t really know if I would look at it because it might be a little too little, too late. The odds of me playing at a place like that my first year would most likely be slim to none.
Is having the opportunity to compete for playing time your true freshman year a big priority for you?
I wouldn’t say it’s a big priority, if a school tells me that we want to let you sit out this year and develop, this and that, I just want them to be honest with me, I don’t want anybody to waste my time by telling me what they think I want to hear to come in and have me thinking I have a chance when there’s no way I’m going to be able to start. Obviously playing time is a factor in the decision, but it’s just a part of it.
Which programs would you say have done a good job in your mind of being honest and direct with you about your potential role and how they view you as a player in their program?
Illinois has been honest with me, Duke, Arkansas, Miami has been honest with me, USF has been honest, Kansas State, that’s all I really want to say right now.
So with Duke—can you describe a little more about what makes you feel they have been honest with you in the recruiting process?
Coach Derek Jones, DJ, he just talks to me about making a decision that isn’t just going to last for the next 4 or 5 years, that they are a very prestigious university, so he tells me that this decision will affect me even beyond the next 10 or 20 years and I should really think about that and understand that if the NFL doesn’t work out for me, a degree from Duke will do wonders for me in my life if football doesn’t pan out for me.
How did you react to that message ?
I think he’s very true with that and Duke is building something special, I really want to see what they do this year as far as what they bring to the table and hopefully getting into the ACC Championship. Really interested to see what they do this year.
How far back does the recruiting process go for you with Duke?
That’s my first offer right there, November, November of 2015. In my opinion the offer came out of the blue, but my friend and former teammate Terrell Lucas, he’s at Duke right now and he was very high on their list and they were on his and he ended up deciding to go there. At the time Derek Jones had asked him how good I was and I guess they ended up watching some film and they liked what they saw and they did a background check on me and asked my coaches what type of person I am. He just told Terrell one day that I should give Coach a call at a certain time and he blessed me with my very first offer. I think Terrell had a lot to do with that as far as the connection.
How did you react in the moment when they extended that first scholarship offer to you?
I was very happy, very excited but I also knew that I had a lot more work to do now that I had the actual first program that believed in me, it just meant I had more to do. As you can see, I did do more after that first offer.
With where you are with Duke in the recruiting process, how would you say you feel about them overall at this point?
I really like them, they are one of my favorites. It’s a possibility, they have a good chance at getting me, yes sir. I like the coaching staff and again, I have a really good friend on the team that would help make the transition easier for me. Last time I talked to Coach DJ he told me that if I wanted to commit right now and shut down my recruiting you can, but he said once you commit, your recruiting needs to shut down and we wouldn’t want you taking any more visits or anything, so I told him that I wanted to get my visits out of the way, get it out of my system and enjoy my recruiting process, then we’ll see. They are definitely getting an official though, that’s for sure.
What is your thought processes towards when you would like to take your official visits and what are the other programs you are seriously looking at taking an official visit to?
I’m looking at also doing an official visit to Illinois, probably LSU, Arkansas is working to get one. I’ll probably try to take them sometime in August, right before the season starts.
Do you have a hoped-for finishing date to your recruiting process?
I’m going to be an early graduate, so my plan is to commit in December, but with this being the recruiting process-things may change and I may commit before the season. If it comes after August, then I may decide in December. As of right now my two options are commit in August or December. With me I would say the lower of confusion and headaches would be to commit in August, but I’m really undecided and I got to go talk to some head coaches and talk with my coaches and just see how they would use me in their system. There’s two head coaches that I’ve spoken to that offered me, that’s Duke and Miami. I had a phone conversation with Lovie Smith, but I talked to Mark Richt and Coach Cutcliffe in person. The meetings went very well, we sat down with Coach Cut and me, Terrell, my head coach. They came to see Terrell and Coach Derek Jones asked me to talk to him real quick and we had some good conversations. I haven’t been on campus there, but I would like to, which is why they are definitely getting an official visit. I wanted to come up there in the summer, but scheduling didn’t work out.
It doesn’t sound like distance is a major factor in your decision….
Yeah, I am hoping to leave the state of Florida.
So would you say at this point that anybody is in the lead in your recruitment?
Previously I did come out and say that Duke was my leader, but as of right now, I’d say it’s split 1 and 2 with Duke and Illinois. LSU is right behind them, so a lot of things could change really, nothing is set in stone.
With being split between Duke and Illinois, are there different reasons for you as to why each program is where they are with you in your process?
I genuinely like Duke, but Illinois, their coaches are coming after me really hard and I have a good relationship with them and the chances of me earning time are very high because they may have upt o 5 lineman leaving next year. If I come in and work, I might be able to step in and play and earn time. And as you know, Lovie Smith has coached some great players and is a great coach.
Do you see a similar path to competing for early playing time at Duke, or do you see a different path there?
I know at Duke, if I come in and work hard, I’ll probably get a couple of minutes per game early on from my perspective. Like I said before, my teammate is already there so that helps, so I really need to see the season. I’m not afraid of competition, I don’t want to be competing with guys for 2 or 3 years. I know if I can come in and work hard good things will happen, and they are kinda young on the defensive line. I’m friends with Drew Jordan too, I was actually just talking to him the day before he committed, he said he really liked Duke and he had taken an unofficial there and he said that he was ready. I need to talk with him as far as playing time to see how it might work.