You might not have noticed, but tight end John Carlson has been playing quite a bit for the Irish. He's gone unnoticed mostly because his minutes on the field have been on special teams where he's recorded five tackles so far this season. Not many noticed Carlson until he got his first start of his career against Stanford last week.
The two-time Minnesota all-state player was thrilled to see some action last Saturday.
"It's always great to play," Carlson said. "That's what we work for in the off-season and that's what we practice for is to get in the game.
"It was fun to get the opportunity, and I found out game day I was going to get the chance, but I try to come in every game day ready to play. Obviously the coaches don't know what's going to happen, and I don't know what's going to happen, so I just try to be ready no matter what the circumstances are."
The Stanford game was not the first time that Carlson has been on the field this year as he has played on special teams in all six games.
"I was just lucky enough to be given the opportunity to be on special teams, and I just want to be on the field and try to help the team win and I feel lucky to be on special teams." Carlson said.
"Some people don't think much of playing on specials, but I look at it as being on the field and playing and helping the team. Special teams are one-third of the game and as a couple mistakes we've made this season has shown, they can be big as far as kick-off returns and things."
Carlson is now in his second year in the program and we asked him how he has improved and what he has to work on to become a better all-around performer.
"That's really a hard question because it is kind of hard for me to evaluate myself," he replied. "But I need to improve my all-around game. I need to be a better blocker and to run routes better and be more precise with my footwork.
"I also need to be more consistent with my hands, looking the ball in, and continue to learn the offense. There are a lot of aspects of the offense that I need to continue get better at and it's nice to have five other tight ends around that I can emulate and pick their brains to see what I need to do better.
"All the tight ends have helped me in their own certain ways, especially Billy Palmer. He is very knowledgeable about the game of football and about our offense."
Tight end coach Mike Denbrock said he's been very pleased with Carlson when he's gotten a chance.
"John is doing a great job for us right now," Debrock said of Carlson. "With some of the nicks and bruises we've had, he is stepping right in there and getting some experience. I think athletically he is as gifted as anybody we have at the position and he just needs to gain some more experience."
The personable Carlson says he has a lot of respect for the Navy team and expects the upcoming game to be quite a battle with the Midshipmen.
"They are 5-0 and obviously they are a very talented team and play hard," he said. "We are watching film so sort of know what to expect from their defense, but I think the key is they are going to play really hard."
Irish Eyes asked the Minnesota all-state basketball player if he would be joining the Irish basketball team again this year and how difficult is it to go from one sport to another.
"Yes, the team is going to take me back whenever the football season is over, but I'm not looking at that right now as I am concentrating on football.
"It's hard to go from one to the other, but if it's something I really want to do, it's worth it. I just try to be as organized as possible; get all my lifting in, basketball practice, classes, and get homework done all in one day, but being organized is the key."
Carlson says his family has been great support for him while he patiently waits for his turn at tight end for the Irish.
"My family made me who I am and hopefully that is a good person, as that is what I am trying to be," he stated. "It's just great to know that no matter what happens on the field or in the classroom or whatever trouble I encounter, I have someone to fall back on and to give me the support and confidence I need."During his high school days, Carlson was also a member of the National Honor Society and when we asked how his exams are going this week, he gave a big smile and replied, "To be honest, I don't have any this week. A couple of weeks ago I had four tests in one week, and I got them all done and they went very well."
Irish Eyes is very impressed with John Carlson. He is a confident, hard-working person, and we predict big things for him on the football field and in his chosen career.