It’s easy to overlook Penn State’s Glenn Carson, even if he is in the middle of the Nittany Lions’ defense.
Carson is flanked by outside linebackers Gerald Hodges and Mike Mauti, two of the program’s most dynamic players both on and off the field.
While his teammates may garner more attention at Linebacker U., Carson doesn’t mind.
“I love playing next to those guys because I know they’re not going to shy away from any type of competition,” he said. “No matter how the game is going, I know that they’re going to play as hard as they can from the beginning to the end of the game. I love playing with those guys.”
Carson, a true junior, mixes it up pretty well himself. He was fourth on the team with 74 tackles and was at his best against some of the Nittany Lions’ toughest foes.
He contributed 11 tackles in a loss against eventual national champion Alabama and had the same number in a victory over Ohio State. He had eight tackles against Nebraska and Wisconsin.
“One of the great aspects about Glenn Carson is that he plays the last play of the game as hard and as an intense as he plays the first play of the game,” longtime linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden said. “He gets better as the game goes on.”
“He’s a real motivated guy, a real hard worker,” sophomore linebacker Mike Hull added. “He’s always thinking about the different possibilities that can happen.”
The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder is looking to perform at a higher level in the new scheme being employed by head coach Bill O’Brien and defensive coordinator Ted Roof. He feels like the 617 snaps that he saw last season make the transition easier.
“I’m definitely more comfortable on the field in general, but we do have a completely new defense,” said Carson, a Manahawkin, N.J. native. “That’s a little bit of a change and something I’m adjusting to right now. As soon as I understand the full concepts, I think it’s going to be a breeze. I’m getting real close to mastering this defense. Hopefully soon, it’s going to come like second nature.”
So far, so good say the Penn State coaches about No. 40.
“He’s a tough kid who loves playing,” O’Brien said. “He’ll be good there.”
“He continues to make himself a better player physically,” Vanderlinden said. “He works really hard addressing areas he’s not as strong. He’s tough as nails, he’s smart and he’s very competitive.”
Carson, Southern Regional High School’s career tackles leader and a three-time New Jersey wrestling finalist, says he loves the contact and mayhem in the middle of the Penn State defense. At the team’s annual media day last week, he said he was happy when practices changed from helmets only to pads. “I like hitting a little bit,” he said.
He’s also pretty good at hitting the books, too. The advertising/public relations major entered summer classes with a 3.29 GPA.
Carson’s also spent this summer studying a thick playbook and watching a lot of film. With more than 600 snaps, he’s had plenty of plays to view.
“You watch tapes so that every mistake you’ve made last year you hope you won’t make this year,” Carson said. “You’re going to be that much better.”
And if Carson performs to a higher level, maybe he’ll get his share of the ink along with Hodges and Mauti in the new defensive scheme.
“I think it’s a strong unit,” Vanderlinden said. “If we stay healthy, I think we’re going to be awfully good.
“In every scheme the linebackers ought to be making game-changing plays and being aggressive,” Vanderlinden added. “This has a lot of versatility to it and it gives the linebackers a lot of opportunities to penetrate the backfield.”