TULSA — When Tulsa East Central linebacker Marcus Dees suffered an injury just before the Cardinals' playoff opener in 2010, sophomore Kimmie Carson was hungry for the chance to get more game action.
Then-coach Travis Hill trusted the youngster with the position even though he had been playing defensive end to that point.
“It was a natural move for me,” Carson said. “It wasn't hard at all. Coach Hill just told me to read the fullback and go get it and that's what I did. I had a great game.”
Carson played a big part in the Cardinals' 30-8 win over Skiatook in the opener, then helped East Central advance to the Class 5A title game.
Now, nearly two years later, Carson is widely considered the top linebacker in the state and comes in at No. 10 on The Oklahoman's Super 30 list of the state's top recruits.
“He's just such a raw talent,” first-year East Central coach Bobby Klinck said. “The thing about him is he loves contact. He's a fast player, he's just extremely raw right now.”
Klinck said he expected Carson to grow in the position as the season goes on.
Carson is receiving a good amount of recruiting attention already. He has offers from New Mexico and South Dakota and conditional offers from Oregon State, Washington State and Arkansas State.
He hopes to turn one of those conditional offers, Arkansas State, into a full offer later this month when he travels to Jonesboro, Ark., where Red Wolves head coach Gus Malzahn will take a look at Carson.
A day earlier, he'll be across the state in Fayetteville at the University of Arkansas.
More than anything, Carson is looking forward to the season and being a part of a defense that also includes Oklahoma commit Stanvon Taylor.
“We're going to be the No. 1 defense in the state,” Carson said. “It's a whole new defense this year and we're looking real, real good.”
That playoff game against Skiatook woke up Carson to the possibility that football could be a big part of his future.
“That game did a lot for me,” he said. “I didn't think I ever had a chance to play college football before that game. It was a dream. That game changed that, though.
“Right now, it's all in my hands. As long as I keep putting in the work, it's going to happen.”
The work is a big part of what Klinck is trying to instill in Carson — not necessarily for his success this year but setting him up for success in the future.
Klinck should know. He was a two-time Oklahoman All-State first-teamer out of Jenks in 1999-2000 and wound up signing with Oklahoma.
“Once you get into college, it becomes a job,” Klinck said. “Once you get there as a freshman, you're busy from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and if you don't have a work ethic and you're not ready to rock n' roll, you're going to get left by the wayside.
“It's starting to click with him a little bit and you can definitely see it in the way he's working out now and the way he's taking coaching. It's exciting to see.”
Oklahoman Super 30
The Oklahoman's Super 30 feature series on the state's top football recruits continues with No. 10, Kimmie Carson of Tulsa East Central. Here are the last three players we've written about in the series:
No. 13: Ben Oberste, Sallisaw
No. 12: Dominique Alexander, Tulsa Washington
No. 11: Jordan Smallwood, Jenks
Up next: Check out No. 9 on the Super 30 list, a big, bruising running back who accounted for nearly 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns while helping his team to the state finals. Find out who he is in Saturday's Oklahoman.
No. 10: Kimmie Carson
School: Tulsa East Central
Recruited by: Offers include Arkansas State, Oregon State, New Mexico and South Dakota.