Carlson Steps into New Role

Just a small switch in positioning has put Notre Dame's John Carlson a little bit out of his element. For now that is. Beginning this past spring and continuing into the fall, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Carlson is trying to make the transition from the F tight end position to the Y tight end position vacated by Anthony Fasano.

"A lot of the blocking at the F tight end position is on the move, getting guys from the side," Carlson explained following the first fall practice on Monday. "Blocking from the Y, it's obviously right on the line, I am taking on defensive ends one on one, and that's really something I need to work on."

Carlson, who started six games last year when the Irish went with multiple tight ends, anticipated the small position switch after Fasano declared he was entering the NFL draft. He got right to work.

"I feel like I knew the position fairly well on paper, but in the spring it was my first taste of actually being in that position," Carlson explained. "It was a learning experience, and it continues to be."

The summer was for taking classes, getting stronger and playing seven on seven. Now it's back to working on his technique for the Y position. Carlson has been soaking up pointers from head coach Charlie Weis and tight ends coach Bernie Parmalee. It has been a process, as far as becoming a better blocker at the line of scrimmage.

"It's great that we have you know how many practices before the first game, because I have a lot of things I need to get more comfortable with," Carlson said, thinking ahead to the opener at Georgia Tech, Sept. 2. "I am looking forward to the opportunity in practice to work on those weaknesses. I still have a ways to go."

Carlson might have a lot to learn about blocking in the trenches, but he has shown the ability to catch the football and make plays on the few opportunities he's had. He caught seven passes for 56 yards last year, including a 22-yard scoring reception against Purdue.

While Carlson was making the most of his rare opportunities, Fasano hauled in 47 passes for 576 yards and two touchdowns. Among pass catchers, all three of those stats ranked third on the team. Those numbers have Carlson amped about his new role. So did the four catches for 36 yards he had in the spring game.

"It's a great opportunity and I am excited to hopefully be a bigger part of this offense," Carlson said.

Carlson is trying to put to use what he soaked up from Fasano last season.

"I've learned so much from him it's hard to name just one thing. I think just the way he competes is something hopefully I can pick up on and kind of emulate that."

If Carlson remotely compares to Fasano last season, he will be in for a big year.

"Everyday, you just have to improve on what your role is and my role is different this year," Carlson explained. "I have to improve my blocking at the line. I feel like I am preparing with the same mentality, it's just that I am preparing for different things." Top Stories