Glenn Carson was what you want out of a middle linebacker for Penn State last fall -- durable, reliable, tough and unselfish.
Glenn Carson will once again make the calls for Penn State's defense this season.
When he was on the field, that is.
Carson was often the odd linebacker out when the Nittany Lions would go to nickel formations, which often meant long periods on the sidelines when Penn State played pass-happy teams. As the Nittany Lions tweak their defense this spring, the junior middle linebacker hopes to be not only more of a full-time player but more of an impact player as well.
"I'm trying to work on going from a solid, reliable player to a player that's going to make big plays and bigger things happen this year," Carson said.
The 6-foot-3, 238-pound Carson, of Manahawkin, N.J., was fourth on the team with 74 stops (28 solo) last season and forced a pair of fumbles. But only 1.5 of those tackles went for loss, and he did not record a sack or an interception, largely because he wasn't in the game on the majority of passing downs, when outside linebackers Michael Mauti, Gerald Hodges and Nate Stupar would play the two linebacker spots in the nickel package.
Penn State, which has seen its secondary thinned by injury, hasn't yet put in its nickel package this spring. Carson is preparing himself in case the Nittany Lions decide to stick with their base defense on all three downs in the fall.
"Pass defense has been one of the things I need to work on," Carson said. "Hopefully I'm getting better at it, and I can show the coaches that I can stay on the field (in passing situations) and we won't need to go nickel as much."
As the middle linebacker, Carson is responsible for calling the plays in the defense, which means he's had to learn Ted Roof's new terminology and schemes quickly.
"I've always been pretty good, even last year, at getting the play calls in." he said. "I think I'm picking up the new defense really well. I have a good sense of what's going on in the field, not just my position but pretty much all the positions."
Going against Penn State's revamped offense in practice has helped Carson learn more about schemes. Covering players like Silas Redd, Bill Belton, Garry Gilliam and Kevin Haplea has helped him develop the pass defending skills he'll need if he wants to stay on the field this season.
"There's a lot going on," he said, "and playing against a good offense like this is going to help me against all kinds of offenses."