Senior LB approaches the finale of his Penn State career

Posted: November 22, 2013

STATE COLLEGE - For three straight seasons, Glenn Carson has racked up tackles in the thick of Penn State's defense.

The Manahawkin, N.J., native did what few before him accomplished: be a 3-year starting linebacker at "Linebacker U." But Carson has done it and amassed 246 tackles in the process. He will make his 35th career start Saturday when Nebraska visits Happy Valley, but it will be the senior's last game at Beaver Stadium.

"It means a lot that the coaches and players were able to trust me at such a young age," Carson said. "And I was able to show that I was responsible enough to start at a young age, my sophomore year. I've just enjoyed my time here. I enjoyed playing on Saturdays; it's really what I live for, and I am really going to miss putting on the blue jersey."

For as long as Carson has been starting, he was overshadowed in the last two seasons by outside linebackers Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges, both draft picks of the Minnesota Vikings in April. Carson never seemed to mind the lack of attention from fans or media, and as the only returning starter on the defense this season, he's been one of the team's best players.

Carson leads the team with 75 tackles, 37 solo, and the fourth-year player also has four tackles for loss and a sack in 10 games.

"Glenn really defines our defense," said Malcolm Willis, a safety and fellow senior. "He's a tough guy, he's always doing extra things, whether it be watching film after practice or before meetings in the afternoon. We have a great relationship on the field and off the field. We tend to go in the film room and watch film together a lot. On the field, he being the middle linebacker and me being the free safety, we have to communicate."

Carson has been a constant in a linebacking corps that has dealt with multiple injuries this season. And as Penn State's defense went through its share of growing pains, coach Bill O'Brien often pointed to Carson as a defensive leader who addressed the unit when it needed to be addressed.

"He's a guy that you're going to miss," O'Brien said. "Just like you said the same thing about Mauti last year. Glenn Carson just loves the game. He'll have a chance to play pro football, so I don't think his career is over. But he's a guy that's meant a lot to our football program, no question about it."

Pro football is likely in the future of the 6-3, 235-pound Carson, one of a few Penn State players with a decent chance of getting selected in next year's NFL draft. Carson has some professional roots, as his late grandfather, Tom Higgins Sr., played for the Eagles in the 1950s. rates Carson as the 10th-best inside linebacker prospect for the draft and projects him as a sixth- or seventh-round pick.

A lot can change in the next 5 months, but Carson, and 16 other seniors, have only two chances left in a Penn State uniform. Saturday, he will face a Nebraska team against which he racked up a career-high 14 tackles last season.

Carson said he will have obvious emotions when he takes the Beaver Stadium turf for the final time. But he gained experience with emotional moments on Senior Day last season when the team honored Mauti - who missed the contest with a knee injury - by putting his number on its helmets, and Penn State downed Wisconsin in overtime.

"A lot of those guys were my best friends, and knowing that was the last time I was going to be on the field with them, it was an emotional thing for me," Carson said. "So, even last year, I had to hold back my emotions a little bit. It's nothing new, it's nothing I haven't been through."

On Twitter: @SPianovich

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