Blake Carrington doesn’t necessarily fit the profile of a standard football player. But there’s still a place for guys like Carrington in a sport based largely on size and strength.
The recent Cass graduate uses his combination of speed and instincts to play bigger than his listed frame of 5-foot-10, 160 pounds. He utilized his attributes to star for the Colonels last fall, and next fall, he’ll hope they’re enough to see him carve out a key role for Shorter University after signing with the Hawks earlier this month.
“He’s a little undersized,” Cass head coach Bobby Hughes said of Carrington, “so you have to play with that chip on your shoulder, if you want the chance to play at the next level.”
While Carrington may not have been given a fair chance at some other schools due to his size, the Colonels have had plenty of success building a team around defensively sound players who always seem to be in the right spot.
“He played with a high motor,” Hughes said of Carrington. “He was always flying around. That really helped, and they kind of fed off that. …
“We’ve made a living on defense with guys like him who may not have prototypical size, but their games let them play bigger than they are.”
Carrington’s commitment to the Hawks means players from at least three of the four Bartow County football programs will send incoming freshmen to Shorter.
Woodland had a quartet of players sign with the Hawks earlier this year, while Cartersville linebacker Tristan Carlton has also inked with the Rome-based university. But it’s another former Cane defensive player, Bradley Kirk, who Carrington is most looking forward to playing with at Shorter.
“They’re building a football team,” Carrington said of what he liked about the program. “It’s a good way for me to go in there and show off my talent — maybe be a freshman starter.”
He would seem to have every opportunity to earn snaps at safety after playing an outside linebacker-safety hybrid role at Cass. Considering Kirk, who has a similar build to Carrington, made an impact his freshman season — finishing tied for sixth with 33 tackles — his former classmate could be a factor under second-year head coach Zach Morrison.
“He said he was willing to work with me on everything just to help me build on how I play,” Carrington said of discussion he had with Morrison. “He told me I have to stay on top of my studies.”
Carrington said he’s looking forward to playing for Shorter, but admitted there’s some trepidation about playing collegiately.
“I’m nervous, because it’s a whole different level,” he said. “It’s like coming into high school the first year.”
Well, if his time is anything like his four years at Cass, Carrington will just continue to improve throughout his time at Shorter.
He’ll bulk up more with a college weight training program and might even grow a few more inches. Even if he doesn’t, Carrington will use the tools at his disposal to help him the best version of himself.
That was good enough for the Colonels, and it will be good enough for the Hawks.
“He just kept getting a little bit better every year,” Hughes said. “He started saying, ‘I think I want to play at the next level.’ If any kid wants to play, there is a level or a place that they can play. You need to be realistic with yourself, as far as what your abilities are and where you fit, and Blake did a good job of reaching out to programs and with us trying to find programs that fit for him.
“You want them to go somewhere they can stay four years and get a degree. That’s some of the stuff that we stress. Everyone wants to play, but are you willing to play at the level at which you are meant to play at? Blake is a realist. He knows his abilities and gets the most out of them. I think, that’s what makes him a good player.”