• John Macon Gillespie

Carroll Carries The Load For Cougars

Cam Carroll is a rare breed at the running back position in the day and age of spread out, wide open offenses. He is big, strong and powerful, however, he plays in a spread offense.

He’s just an old-fashioned, no excuse-type runner. Give it to him and he’s going to make a play for his team. Throw it to him, he’ll do the same. Leave him in the backfield and he can help in pass protection.

Carroll doesn’t have to come off the field, and that is hard to find these days.

“I feel I’m more of a downhill runner. I can run outside zone, but up the middle I’m pretty hard to stop. You could say the same for outside zone,” Carroll told SES Mississippi. “I can’t myself be stopped easily.”

His football career began at the ripe age of nine, on the rec league fields of Jackson. By his freshman year he was a running back and linebacker. However, as his body and skills took shape over the years - and his influence of watching guys like Marshawn Lynch, Leonard Fournette, Adrian Peterson and Bo Jackson - he settled in at running back.

As a sophomore he would tally nearly 400 yards and four scores on the ground. He broke out last season with 1,399 rushing yards to go with 15 rushing scores.

“I’ve improved all over,” He explained. “There’s a lot I’ve had to work on from then to now, and I’m still improving every day.”

“As a whole we work hard, but I know to become the best me, I have to put in extra work. So that’s what I do a lot of. Then I bring it back to my team to better everyone else. I can’ tle

I chose Carroll as my pick for 2017 6A Player of the Year in the SES Preseason magazine. Much of that was due to what has already been mentioned, as he’s an obvious talent. However, the second part of that equation is that I knew he would be counted on greatly this season.

Northwest Rankin is replacing a major playmaker at quarterback this season, as Braden Smith was remarkable a season ago. Both junior Jamari Jones and sophomore Philip Short have seen time at that spot this season. Last week Jones was fantastic in a win over Warren Central.

But for the most part, teams have known they would see a steady diet of Carroll and the running game this season. Yet the Cougars are cramming it down defenses throats to the tune of 264 yards per game on the ground, and 161 of those come from Carroll.

“It was tough, because I was used to one quarterback for so long. And I had to get used to a new one and how he does things,” Carroll noted. “But I have faith in all of my teammates, so I knew whoever the coaches chose, I would trust to make the right decisions.”

That trust, according to Carroll, is something felt throughout the roster. He says it a close-knit group that is alway spending time together away from football.

“I would definitely say we, as a whole, are very close, because we have been together for the most part since middle school,” Carroll said.

This week the Cougars travel to face #5 Starkville, and Carroll has nothing but respect for the Jackets.

“They will definitely be well-coached and play hard, but I think it’ll be a good game to watch and see,” He stated.

For Carroll, it’s just the latest matchup against a top-notch defense. So far this season, he’s fared well against them, too. He rushed for more than 200 against Germantown and Brandon. He also went for 131 versus the vaunted Pearl defense. Last week, against Warren Central, he rushed for just 48 yards but managed 88 yards and a score through the air.

The Yellowjackets are very talented on the defensive side, but in the fourth quarter it will tough to tackle the heavy-hitting and elusive tailback in a different black and gold uniform.

**Photo by Keith Warren of the MHSAA.

#NorthwestRankin #JohnLukeMcCord

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