The 5-foot-10, 180-pound freshman running back has taken a constant beating from the USC defense throughout fall camp and just keeps getting up.
"I'm a competitor," Carlisle said. "I really pride myself on toughness, so if I get hit hard, I'm going to get right back up, jog to the huddle and get ready for the next play."
Safety T.J. McDonald and linebacker Shane Horton have put memorable hits on Carlisle, who starred at Santa Clara (Calif.) King's Academy and originally committed to Stanford before signing with the Trojans.
But he has also shown the ability to dish it out with big hits and memorable plays, leveling corner Torin Harris, leaving corner Ryan Henderson on the ground with a dynamic cut and spinning off Horton.
Carlisle's work ethic and early production has made a major impression on coaches and teammates alike.
"Man, that guy is hard nosed," Horton said. "It's a lot for a freshman to take the punishment he has got in this camp, but it shows a lot of heart. We've all been really impressed with him."
While Carlisle faces a crowded depth chart, with redshirt junior Curtis McNeal, sophomore Dillon Baxter and redshirt freshman D.J. Morgan all showing promise during camp and the return of redshirt senior Marc Tyler to practice Wednesday from suspension, there are signs he might play this year.
"I've said it before, it's so rare for true freshmen to make an impact, regardless of how physically talented they are, unless they are mentally prepared and driven and focused, because there are so many distractions as a freshman. Ninety percent of the freshmen go through those. Very rarely do you find guys like this who are so focused," Kiffin said.
Carlisle has no illusions about playing time this season, but is excited by the possibility.
"The only thing I expect is to go my absolute hardest in practice and if the coaches put me in the game or my number is called, I'm going to go in and give my all," he said. "Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I'm going to go in and make the most of it."
Tyler practiced with the team Wednesday for the first time since he was suspended in July for comments he made to TMZ, working with the scout team to simulate Minnesota. Showing fresh legs, a slimmed down Tyler also had a punishing run in 9-on-7.
Tyler, who left practice early to attend class, did not meet with the media. Kiffin said his presence marked a step on his way back.
"He's not cleared for the second game," Kiffin said. "It's just something that we had in place as he goes through this process, the number of steps. The next one was to bring him out here. This is still all up to Marc."
Tyler rushed for 913 yards and nine touchdowns while starting eight games last season.
Kiffin Cleared by NCAA
The NCAA announced on Wednesday it would not penalize Kiffin for recruiting violations that occurred during his lone season at Tennessee.
Kiffin was accused of two major violations regarding the use of student interns in recruiting, but the Committee on Infractions reduced them to secondary violations, citing insufficient evidence to warrant the charges.
"I'm pleased that the NCAA based its decision on the facts and not on perception," Kiffin said in a statement. "I'm also very grateful that the Tennessee football program was cleared of any wrongdoing."
"We have headed down that direction," Kiffin said. "They both played so well. It could be either of them."
-Freshman defensive end/fullback Charles Burks will undergo surgery Thursday to repair a torn ACL and miss the upcoming season.
-Woods (ankle) practiced in a yellow no-contact jersey.