By Samantha Carruth
"When I hear the name Chad Carson I think of someone who is very mature, responsible, and disciplined," said Bill D'Andrea, director of student-athlete enrichment. "He always demonstrates a seriousness about his academics, weightlifting and football. Whatever Chad Carson undertakes, he puts his all into it. If he decided to take up the art of sewing, he would create a masterpiece."
Chad Carson, the first team weakside linebacker for the Tigers, is the epitome of a college student-athlete. However, you don't hear much about the Chad Carson's of college football. He is a great competitor in the classroom as well as on the field. For him to excel the way he does both in academics and athletics is a true testimony to his character, maturity and discipline Being a student athlete is not always an easy feat. However, Carson has managed to crush the stereotype that is placed upon some athletes. In Carson's three years as a Tiger, he has accumulated a 3.93 GPA in biology with a minor in German. He has also been a member of the ACC academic honor roll for the past three years.
Carson spends what free time he has reading books such as "Atlas Shrugged," a 1,200-page novel about objectivism. He enjoys deep intellectual discussions that revolve around philosophy and science. With dreams of traveling across the world one day he has compiled a list of priority countries to visit. The top three include Europe, Australia and a safari in Africa. Carson and his roommate, Altroy Bodrick, love to cook in their spotless apartment that contains plants, candles and a fish tank.
As you can tell, Carson is a very unique individual. He means something special to each person he has made an impact on during his career as a Tiger. He is an athlete, a scholar, a best friend, a leader, a roll model and a stabilizer. These are just a few of the words that have been used to describe Chad Carson.
"When I hear the name Chad Carson, I think of a quiet guy who keeps to himself, but the first thing that pops in my mind is definitely academics," said teammate Nick Eason.
Carson credits his high school, Woodward Academy in Atlanta, GA, with teaching him how to study more effectively. In high school Carson was known as a "nerd jock" because of his excellence and interest in academics.
"Attending Woodward Academy prepared me for a rigorous academic schedule. In high school I participated in almost every activity possible, which left me hardly any time at all. I got used to studying about an hour a day, putting it all into one slot of time, so I became accustomed to studying efficiently."
Carson gained some of his educational values from television at a younger age. As a child he spent his television time viewing educational shows such as "National Geographic" and "The Discovery Channel."
Carson was honored as a second team Academic All-American in 1999, while garnering first-team honors last season. He is the only active defensive player in the nation who has been first or second-team Academic All-American twice.
"I see Chad Carson as the type of person who would analyze a situation from every conceivable viewpoint, before making the most rational decision imaginable," said Holli Armstrong, a classmate of Carson's and sports editor of "The Tiger," Clemson's student newspaper.
Upon graduation Carson will have plenty of decisions to make about his future. With effective time management skills Carson has again established himself as an Academic All-American for the 2001 season. Carson has applied for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, which would allow him to obtain either a master's or another undergraduate degree while attending Oxford University in England for two years. But Carson isn't putting all of his eggs in one basket. He took the MCAT last spring with aspirations of attending medical school.
"I can apply for medical school now that I have taken the MCAT but I plan on waiting to see how it goes with football," Carson said. If Carson decides to pursue a career in professional football at the conclusion of the school year, then he could possibly have to make a decision between the Rhodes Scholarship and continuing his career in football.
"Both the Rhodes Scholarship and playing professionally are long shots and neither are easy," Carson said. "If I happen to get both of them, I will have to make the hardest decision of my life." If Carson does earn a Rhodes Scholarship, he will be only the second ACC football player to be honored as a Rhodes Scholar. The only other ACC football player in history to be named a Rhodes Scholar is Rex Adams from Duke University, who earned the scholarship in 1961.
"When I hear the name Chad Carson, I think of a guy who is a hard-nosed worker and very intense," said assistant strength and conditioning coach John Sisk. "He does a great job with community work and a great job in the weight room. He has a tremendous work ethic and that is why he has been successful."
The Georgia native is one of the stronger players on the 2001 Clemson team. He is third on the team in the power clean with a 340-pound figure. Carson is slated fourth in the hang clean (363) and the eight strongest overall with 1,589 pounds lifted for the various categories combined.
Last season Carson won the team Iron Man Award on Defense and was the winner of The Solid Rock Award at Linebacker.
When the ladies who attended Tommy Bowden's Ladies Football Clinic two years ago are reminded of the name Chad Carson, they remember the guy who demonstrated the attire of a Clemson football player.
Carson, a member of LIFE Line, Clemson's football leadership group, had no clue what he had gotten himself into two years ago, when offered to model the attire of the Clemson football player at the clinic. Before walking out in front of the ladies attending the clinic in full pads, Defensive Coordinator Reggie Herring told him to go out there and show them what a football player wears. Before he knew it, Carson was standing in front of 500 screaming women.
"I still haven't heard the end of it since it happened. I did flex a little to go along with the show and I got a standing ovation at the end. I do not see anything wrong with 500 ladies screaming for you," Carson said.
Carson sends out an apology for not making a second appearance this year at the Ladies' Clinic. The Butkus Award Candidate was planning to participate again, but had to go out of town the week before two-a-day practices began.
"When I hear the name Chad Carson I think of someone I can always turn to for a listening ear or to talk with," said Bodrick. "He is my best friend and I couldn't ask for a better friend than him." Carson and Bodrick have been roommates for the past two years. Not only are they roommates and defensive teammates, but they are best friends. Their friendship blossomed after rooming together on road trips as freshmen.
The two linebackers decided to live together off campus after determining the qualities they wanted in roommates. The key characteristic for both Carson and Bodrick was cleanliness. Both keep a very clean apartment. Not only are they both neat, but they share the same values about life. Their personalities are not identical, but they compliment each other. Carson and Bodrick like to cook and go out on weekends.
"When hearing the name Chad Carson the first thing that comes to my mind is stability, dependability, accountability, and on top of all of that, a heart of gold," Herring said. "I can not say enough about what he has meant to this program as an ambassador for Clemson Football and Clemson University."
When arriving in Tigertown, the coaches were concerned with Carson's development and how soon he would develop into the type of linebacker Clemson needed to be competitive.
Throughout Carson's first three seasons at Clemson he has proved to the coaches he can withstand the caliber of Division I college football. During Carson's freshman year he played special teams and had only17 snaps as linebacker. He was a top special team tackler in 1998 with 10 tackles on the season.
During the 1999 season, Carson went from a special team player who played just 17 snaps as a linebacker to third in the ACC with 144 tackles.
"I was thrown in the fire my sophomore season, but it was a good opportunity because it forced me to become experienced fast," Carson said.
Last season Carson ranked fourth in the nation in tackles per game. Carson's 156 tackles ranked seventh best in Clemson history for a single season. He had 22 tackles against Georgia Tech, were the most by a Tiger in 2000 and the fourth highest single game total in Clemson history. Entering the 2001 season, Carson had 311 career tackles placing him 12th in Clemson history.
"When I hear the name Chad Carson I think of a great young man, even though I am biased because he is my son," said mom Nancy Carson. "He is all the things you have heard about him. What most people do not know that he has a great sense of humor and loves to pull little jokes on family and friends."
Dr. Nancy Carson recalls one of her son's many prank phone calls. She answered the phone one evening and a strange voice tried to sell her a product, while giving her a difficult time. She was about to hang up when a familiar voice finally identified himself as her son Chad. Chad grew up in a football family. His dad, Tom Carson, is a former Georgia Tech fullback. Nancy Carson is a dentist and is known around the area for making the orange and purple mouthpiece that Number 46 wears during games. Carson has one brother, Andrew, who plays football at Furman.
Chad's father is given credit for instilling the philosophy that football is a team sport and you have to be a team player. Carson was taught to play for the team and not for himself, and eventually individual honors would arise.
The Carson family has always been supportive in everything their son has participated in, whether it was choosing a college, playing a sport or academics. Carson knows his parents will always provide a listening ear, as well as support throughout the rest of his life. To many of the younger guys on the team, the name Chad Carson means leader of the defense. This season with the loss of Keith Adams, Carson had to become more of a vocal leader. "I think more of the younger guys have looked to me to be a vocal leader. That guy they look towards for intensity and to say something motivational."
In the past he has provided more of a lead-by-example role. However, in the 2000 season Carson established himself as the permanent captain of Clemson's 2000 defense.
Carson feels that worth ethic is the most important skill to have as an athlete. Football is an everyday sport that includes, not only games, but weight lifting, practice and studying film. Being a team leader has been a new challenge this season for Carson, but it is a role he has accepted willingly. He works diligently to instill work ethic in younger players.
Chad Carson has touched the lives of many people at Clemson thanks to the different roles he has played in his career as a Tiger. He is not only an Academic All-American, but he is an All-American guy who gives his all at everything he participates in whether it is academics, friendships or football. With such a strong will and desire Chad Carson is well on his way to leaving a remarkable legacy at Clemson University.
"I have always given 100 percent in everything I have done as a Clemson student-athlete," Carson said. "If I go down in Clemson history as a guy who always did his best for the team and tried to make Clemson football better then I will be happy."
Samantha Carruth is from Landrum, SC and is a graduate assistant in the Clemson Sports Information Office.