Wes Carroll Likes Being An Underdog

St. Thomas Aquinas High School quarterback Wes Carroll isn't worried that his team may be looked at as an underdog this year. In fact, he relishes it.

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"We were 13-1 last year and the season before last we were 12-2. A lot of schools look at us as the underdogs this year which is fine with me because I like to be looked at as the underdogs," said Wes. "I like the fact that we have to prove ourselves and have to make our name known again. I don't mind that at all."

Speaking like the confident quarterback that he is, Wes sees the potential for another great season despite what others may see as a team that will be an underdog going into the season.

"I am more excited about this year," said the confident youngster. "You like that competition. When we had our homecoming game last year we only won by four points. We were playing the number 3 team in the state and we were the number 2 team in the state. Games like those are so much more fun than killing a team sixty-eight to nothing in the first half. It's a lot more exciting. Having to fight for every inch is a lot to look forward to."

While some might say that's just a football player talking like any other football player does prior to the start of a season, Wes has factors that back up his talk.

The first factor is how in shape this team is.

"As far as I have ever seen with a high school team, I think we are just as in shape as anybody. We are definitely way pass the point of last year's team," said Wes. "This year, we really focused on the team working out together over the summer, basically, everyday. We did running and the (offensive advisor) Cris Carter agility, speed drills. That helped so much with team chemistry between the defense and offense. It went real well, better than anybody had even planned. That will help us down the road."

Another factor is the team's talent level. While the team lost a lot of linemen on both sides of the ball, the skilled positions are very talented, even a couple of first-time starters.

"This team is more geared toward our skilled positions just simply because of experience," said Wes. "The veterans that are coming back are either defensive backs, wide receivers or a quarterback. We have a solid secondary. All of our linebackers are D-I. On offense, we have me, the wide receiver Hank and I guess you could say the center who started a lot of games when our other center was hurt for a little bit. We also have a running back who could have started last year as a sophomore, Jerry Harden. Be ready for him to be the best in the state. He's like the Reggie Bush type player. He will bust through the line and see something that you can't see on camera. He has amazing vision and that breakaway speed where no one is going to touch him. We also have another receiver who had a huge spring game. His name is Kyle Johnson. He's looking real good and has gotten a lot faster. He's the type kid who isn't afraid to go up for the ball across the middle."

As for himself, Wes sees improvement in his passing efficiency thanks to a lot of work with his quarterbacks coach.

"Since last season and over the summer, I've worked with the quarterback coach that I mentioned in an earlier interview, Dave Bilitier," said Wes, who has offers from Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Duke and Central Florida. "We worked on making my throws more efficient, making the ball release faster and using less energy to throw the ball just as far. Basically, making my job even easier and making my ball more accurate. That was a huge improvement that I didn't even know I could make."

While talented skill players go a long way to making a team successful, you still have to have the hosses up front and Wes sees the potential in the new guys.

"A lot of guys in my class last year didn't get to play simply because the people that were in front of them were older and better," said Wes. "That's not to say they weren't good. The talent level on both lines is definitely above average. We just need to bring everybody up to speed and we should be fine. It just all boils down to experience and gametime situation."

And if they come through, what's Wes' prediction for this year's team?

"We definitely have the potential to go back to state. Whether we look like the underdog or now, that's not relevant."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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