Glenn Carson is the only player in the country that lines up with a Butkus Award semifinalist on his left and right.
But he doesn’t let the success and hype surrounding Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges bother him. The middle linebacker just plays his game.
“I don’t really pay attention to the media and that stuff, I’m just doing my thing,” Carson said. “I know my role on this team and my importance on this team. I’m just going to continue to do my thing and play middle linebacker, fill holes and play tough, hard-nosed football.”
Carson rounds out Penn State’s starting linebacking corps, and for now he is stuck in the shadow of Mauti and Hodges. That senior duo has combined to win three Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Awards and Mauti and Hodges are the team’s top two tacklers with 78 and 68 stops, respectively.
Third for the Nittany Lions with 47 tackles in eight contests is Carson, who is one of the team’s biggest run stoppers in the middle of its front seven. Though Carson doesn’t get the same attention as Mauti or Hodges, both Penn State players and coaches have noted what he means to the team.
Carson said having that kind of support in the locker room is what matters to him.
“With Gerald having a big year last year and continuing into this year and Mauti, you know how Mauti is. You can get overlooked easily, but [Carson]’s the middle linebacker,” senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill said. “He’s making a lot of the calls for us. He’s the guy behind the scenes. At the same time, he’s out there making plays, too. It’s just that some guys’ names will be called, some guys won’t.”
As Hill noted, filling gaps isn’t Carson’s only responsibility on the defense. As a middle linebacker, the junior also signals in plays from the sidelines and makes sure all 11 members of the defense know what is happening on each play.
“I’m making all the checks, I’m getting the play call in,” Carson said. “It’s important for everyone to know what’s going on. I’m kind of the voice of the defense, I’m doing a lot of that.”
The 2012 campaign is the second straight season in which Carson is in the starting role as the middle linebacker. As a sophomore, Carson made 74 tackles for a defense that allowed 16.8 points per game.
At 6-foot-3, Carson is the tallest Penn State linebacker, and his 235-pound frame makes him a formidable tackler. Carson was also a highly-touted wrestler at Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, N.J., and traits from the mat translate over to playing linebacker.
“When you think of Glenn Carson, just think of a state champion heavy weight wrestler from New Jersey and that says it all,” linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden said. “Tough, hard-nosed, loves to compete, loves to work, very prideful.”
Vanderlinden noted that Carson is sometimes too tough on himself after he makes a mistake, and is always striving to get better. Coach Bill O’Brien called him a tough individual, and even with the success of Mauti and Hodges, Carson is not overlooked by his staff or his players.
“I can’t say enough about Glenn. Can’t say enough about him,” O’Brien said earlier this season. “He is not the forgotten man in the football building, I can tell you that.”
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