Josh Carroll prepared to impact Austin Peay State University Governors
By Andrew Alexander
Former Adamsville Cardinal football stand-out Josh Carroll is ready to kick off his sophomore season at Austin Peay State University. Carroll was named Tennessee’s Mr. Football for Class A Linemen in 2009, and in his first year at APSU Carroll saw playing time in 10 of the Governor’s 11 games. “I played special teams mainly. Kickoff returns, punt returns, and kick off coverage,” said Carroll. “Towards the end of the season I played a few games as linebacker.”
According to APSU’s official football website, Carroll recorded eight solo tackles, 10 assisted tackles, two tackles for loss, and one forced fumble. One of Carroll’s most memorable games from the 2010 season was APSU’s trip to the University of Wisconsin to play the Badgers, eventual Big Ten Champions. The Governors fell 70-3 to Wisconsin, but Carroll stepped up in what proved to be his best game of the season statistically, recording seven total tackles.
“I’ve never played in front of that many people before,” said Carroll. “The crowd was so loud that I couldn’t hear myself on the field.” Carroll also said that it was, “pretty cool” to see himself on ESPN the next day. The college game is much different than the football Carroll was accustomed to at Adamsville High School. “Everyone is a lot faster and a lot bigger,” said Carroll, “but it’s still just football.”
Carroll also sees a difference in the way football programs are run comparing his high school experience to the one he is currently living, saying that APSU’s Coach Rick Christophel is more like boss than a coach.
“Coach Chris is more like a CEO or a boss. It’s totally different than Coach Gray,” said Carroll. “You get more of a chance to develop relationships with coaches in high school. This is more like a job or a working relationship.” Despite the differences Carroll, is comfortable with the program and is learning a lot from the coaches. “Coach Christophel is a pretty cool guy,” Carroll said. “He knows a lot about football and he tells you how it is. I like that.” APSU’s official website lists only four linebackers on the team roster, but according to the coaching staff, six linebackers were present during spring sessions, and several more will be coming in the fall.
Carroll is in the mix for more special teams work in the upcoming season, and says that earning a spot in the defensive rotation is going to depend on his performance in camp. “I just need to accept my role,” said Carroll. “I need to go out and be the best I can be whenever I get an opportunity out there.” Carroll could be considered small for a linebacker. APSU’s current roster lists him at 5 feet 6 inches tall and 219 pounds, but size is no issue in his mind.
“It has its advantages and disadvantages, but everyone is dealt a different hand,” said Carroll. “Size won’t handicap you unless you let it handicap you.” Carroll is excited about the 2011 season because he gets another shot at a tough Division I opponent when the Governors face the University of Cincinnati in their first game of the season and because he’ll have several opportunities to play close to home.
“I’m pretty excited about playing Memphis and UT-Martin,” Carroll said. “I’ll get to play in front of a lot of family and a lot of friends.” Carroll has had the luxury of his biggest fans seeing him play each week. Parents Tammy and Larry “Sambo” Carroll, former Cardinal standout in his own right, were present at every game last season, including APSU’s game in Wisconsin nearly 700 miles from McNairy County. “That was a great experience,” said Mrs. Carroll. “Visiting Wisconsin is an opportunity we would have never had if Josh hadn’t been playing ball.”
“It’s pretty exciting moving from small town football to college ball,” said Mrs. Carroll. “He’s been a blessing to us. He’s worked hard, and his hard work paid off for him in the end.” Carroll has also found himself in a unique situation. He is currently rooming with friend and former assistant coach at AHS Nathan Reagan who has assumed his student coaching position at APSU.
“Carroll looks to be in the best shape I have ever seen him,” said Reagan. “You can tell he has been working hard during the off-season to get in better shape. That will help him this season, no doubt.” Reagan also believes Carroll has the potential to play a vital role for the Governors in 2011.
“He is a hard worker whose work ethic is second to none,” said Reagan. “Those kind of guys always have a huge impact on their team.
APSU’s training camp begins on August 7, according to Reagan, and Carroll, “is expected to make an impact this year both defensively at linebacker and on special teams.”