When he arrived at Tulsa East Central in mid-May, Cardinals coach Bobby Klinck could see the raw skills in linebacker Kimmie Carson.
“I could tell he definitely had some physical tools,” Klinck said. “You could tell he liked to strike people.”
What needed developing was the way Carson approached the game away from Friday nights.
Klinck got through to Carson, and the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder became a force on the East Central defense.
Carson had 130 tackles and a pair of interceptions to help lead the Cardinals to the Class 5A state title game before falling to Carl Albert.
Carson earned Oklahoman All-State honors at linebacker.
Things really started developing for Carson just before the regular season began.
“What we tried to do with him was work on the way you read as a linebacker,” Klinck said. “When we were at the city tournament up in Tulsa right before the season, and it clicked with him. ‘Hey, if I read this, this helps me out a little bit more.' From that point on, he became a student of the game.”
Instead of waiting for Klinck and the rest of the coaches to post film or go over it with him before practice, Carson started seeking out study time.
It wasn't unusual for Klinck to get a call or text in the middle of the night asking if that week's film had been posted so Carson could get to work.
“That's a really big factor for him in the way he approaches the game,” said Klinck, a former Jenks All-Stater. “It's really satisfying to see a player come along like that. I wanted to try to learn from the mistakes I made coming up and have them not make those mistakes.
“I've tried to keep them humble and let them know that everywhere else in the country there are guys just like you. What sets the really great ones apart are the guys that put in the extra effort, put in the extra work and stay humble.”
It's a lesson Carson took to heart.
“I could've been a pretty good high school player without doing those things but I know at the next level, I'm going to have to do them,” Carson said.
Carson is one of two state players — both on the All-State team — who have committed to New Mexico and coach Bob Davie.
“I'm really looking forward to that,” Carson said. “I've built a great relationship with the coaches there.”