Back in August we brought you news of former Parkview and current Butler Community College tailback Chris Carson's commitment to the University of Georgia. At the time, we really did not have any collegiate film footage to work from in breaking down the impact of that commitment. Now, Carson's midseason Butler film is out, and I have to say that I am a little bit more excited about his pledge.
Breaking down JUCO prospect footage is a bit different from high school footage in a couple of ways. For one, you have to remember that the player you are scouting is one to two years further along physically and technique wise versus high school players. While it is all well and good to take a high school junior who you will be able to mold through a redshirt season, JUCO players have to play. A second corollary point is that junior college players are generally competing against a higher quality of athlete than high school prospects. Therefore on JUCO film you're rarely going to see the kind of jaw dropping breakaway runs and run over players that you see in high school film because these guys are a lot closer inability to what the prospect in question will play against on Saturdays. In a way that is helpful, even if it does make for fewer "wow" moments when reviewing film.
With that preamble, you can take a look at Carsons midseason footage here.
Those who watch lot of football tape and evaluate players live and in living color generally develop some quirky ways of gauging players' ability and potential. Here is one of mine: all other things being equal I find that slightly bowlegged tailbacks are often a little bit quicker. I do not know why this is the case, in fact I am fairly certain that there is no physiological justification for this correlation. I just know that I have seen a lot of tailbacks over the past 25 years, and those like Carson who have a slight bow in the legs are often quicker and cut better.
Speaking of which, one of the things that you notice on this tape is that Carson is pretty good at getting to the corner. The guy clearly has excellent acceleration, especially when you consider that the players he is playing against in the Kansas community college system are generally better in pursuit than high school players. On the flipside, Carson also does a great job of running patiently, staying behind blockers, and choosing the appropriate moment to put the hammer down and break for daylight. Some guys have a knack for that, others never learn it. Carson didn't really display this in his high school tape; you may recall that I referred to him as a "dancer."
He also does not shy away from contact here, though I would like to see him run with his pads parallel to the line more as I think this will help him sustain momentum through contact better. To be fair however, this is a fairly small set of highlights and Carson may well be doing this on a run by one basis.
If the measurements on this page are correct and Carson is 6'2 and 215 pounds then he is clearly an SEC – caliber combination of size and speed. I do not believe for one second that he runs the 4.35 40 yard dash advertised. He's quick, and may even be fast, but he's not that fast.
Georgia is in an enviable position so far as 2015 tailback recruiting goes. With Nick Chubb and Sony Michel contributing from day one, Keith Marshall likely back for one and perhaps even two more seasons, and Brendan Douglas around for two more seasons as a steady contributor, the Bulldogs are not in dire need of a marquee tailback for this class. What they are always in need of, as the recent redeployment of J.J. Green to tailback makes clear, is depth. Depth, depth, and more depth. That's where Carson comes in. He is a guy who can absorb carries in the SEC and with some luck could carry on as the starter in a pinch. Bringing him into the fold allows Georgia to have another player in the rotation while they continue to recruit elite high school tailbacks for the class of 2016.
The common wisdom in college football recruiting is that if you are going to take a JUCO player, he had better be able to play immediately. Chris Carson fits the bill in that regard, and I expect that we will see him in the rotation in Athens next season.