Junior defensive tackle Carl Pendleton announced Thursday that he will be ending his football career at the University of Oklahoma at the end of the season, so that he can devote all his energies on this post-graduate studies and to being the legal guardian of his 10-year old brother, Keirstan.
It was also announced today that Pendleton had been chosen to receive one of nine $18,000 dollar Scholar-Athlete Post-Graduate Scholarships from the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
Following practice on Thursday, Pendleton sat down with OUInsider.com to talk about his decision, his future, the love for his brother and his love for his teammates and the University of Oklahoma.
JH: Carl, just talk about the decision you announced today?
CP: "It is very exciting. I wasn't really sure what I was going to do for a while, because I have played football here OU for a long time. I started thinking about it last year when I knew that I wasn't going to the NFL. Then I wondered if I was making the right decision, but I prayed about it and then I saw God and knew that I was heading in the right direction. Then when the scholarship came in with the conformation, it kind of felt good. I think Keirstan was more excited than I was.
"A lot of stuff has happened over the years that have prepared me for it. I am graduating a semester early and being in the position that I am in, I just really know that everything that I have done has just been preparation as everything has kind of fallen in place now. So I am excited."
JH: Did you have a pretty good idea you would be awarded the scholarship?
CP: "I was kind of nervous about it because I knew the voting was on Tuesday and my birthday was on Wednesday, so I figured I would have some kind of idea on Wednesday if I was going to get it. When I didn't hear anything I said, "Bad happy birthday to me." Then Thursday, when I came home not even expecting it, I had a FedEx letter there and all of a sudden it was Happy Birthday to me. So it was really good."
JH: What do you hope to study in graduate school?
CP: "I am going to get my masters in Education and I am not sure where that is going to lead me. I may go to Seminary after that, but I am going to stick around Norman a little bit longer. This guy (Keirstan) likes Norman, so I want to keep him here for a little while and let him continue to go to school here.
"I don't know if that is going to take me into coaching or what, but I know that I am going to be into the youth ministry somehow. I accepted a position to work at Journey Church here in Norman and I will be working there with youth, fifth and sixth graders, in the spring. I am not sure after that. That is where I will start out."
JH: You have started in a lot of games and you have played in every game since you have been on campus. How tough is it going to be to give up football when you know that you have always played a vital role on the defense?
CP: "I love playing and I love being a part of it. However, at the same time there is nothing more than I have pleasure in than being around kids and talking and telling them about Jesus Christ. There is nothing more pleasurable in my life than doing that. If I can do that every day of my life, then I wouldn't regret it at all."
JH: Talk about your role as a father figure for Keirstan?
CP: "I have just realized a shift of priorities. I don't have as much time to be crazy and a dork, but I enjoy it because I get a chance to be a dad. It kind of freaks me out sometimes because I catch myself doing parent-like things. Then I ask myself what am I doing? At the same time, I still get to be a big brother and pick on him (Keirstan is sitting on Carl's lap and goofing around) and I take full advantage of it.
"It is really teaching me a lot, but I have had to grow up a little faster than I was prepared to. But I haven't missed a beat, and he hasn't missed a beat. He keeps me on my toes. No matter how hard the day may have been or how rough practice was, I come home and see his chubby little face and it perks things up.
"It keeps me straight when I have to be a constant example for him. I know that every area of my life has to be done right because he is watching every single move that I make and every word that I say. He repeats everything and imitates everything."
JH: What did you think of your teammates giving you a standing ovation?
CP: "It is a bunch of guys who love me and a bunch of guys that I love. I am still going to be around and I am still going to be in Norman. I am not going anywhere. They know how hard I work and I know how hard they work. It is a family. Your family gets excited for you the same way that I get excited for them. They like to pick on him too and he is a little brother to some of them. I have been a part of this program for four years and I am going to continue to be a part of it. This is my family forever."
JH: You said whether you got this scholarship or not that this was going to be your last year, so when did you make that decision?
CP: "I had applied for a few scholarships, but I wasn't sure I would get them or not. It is just a trust in God that his decision was the right one. It wasn't all my decision. I thought about it, but a lot of prayer went into it as well. I felt like it was his decision. It was the same thing coming to OU. I didn't really want to come to OU, but it was his decision, not mine, and it worked out for the best.
"I really didn't want to stop playing, but being his decision I knew it would work out for the best. That is one thing that I have been taught a lot this year, and that is stepping out on the water and knowing that he is not going to teach me to swim and just let me drown. There are just so many things that I have just trusted that God will give me. It is just like the money thing. It is tight. You know money is tight when you have a kid that eats more than I do.
"There are a lot of lessons that I try to teach him when I say that God is always going to provide for us, and then low and behold $18,000 dollars comes along for school. It was right on time. It is just trusting that the decisions that I make through him are the right decisions."
JH: Is there a point this year when you started thinking about it?
CP: "I had thought about it coming into this year. After having knee surgery, I really didn't feel like the old me. I just couldn't play at the old speed that I used to play at, but I am playing better now. My knee is getting looser every day and it is feeling better. So I kind of feel that I am back into the football groove.
"However, I am in a different area of my life kind of growing up in and seeing that there are other things out there. The NFL is not really for me. If I was going to try to go to the NFL, then of course I would stick around for another year. That has never been my intention or my goal. Football is a way to get my education."
JH: What does this mean for the rest of this year for you?
CP: "It is my senior year, but it doesn't really change a whole lot. But I realize that I only have one more home game left. I will never be able to be on that field playing in front of those great fans again. That is special. That really is being part of Oklahoma football is a legacy, and knowing that is coming to an end is tough. That is hard, but at the same time you realize that you are always part of that family and you can come back and be a part of it."
Pendleton chooses family over Football
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