Raleigh (N.C.) Cardinal Gibbons defensive lineman Nick Carroll has grown an inch and added 40 pounds since his sophomore year and currently checks in at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds -- but the junior says he's not done growing just yet. He has an older brother who is 6-8, 300-plus pounds and Carroll thinks he will reach a similar size before he's finished.
"During my junior year, I played defensive tackle and some defensive end, but mostly defensive tackle," Carroll said. "I migrated from playing defensive end last year to the interior line because I weighed more than everybody else and was bigger than everybody else.
"It was very tough to move inside. Last year, as a sophomore, I was 6-3, 205; putting on weight was a big deal and I grew an inch. I put on some strength, I'll go out in the yard and practice with my brother, who is obviously a big guy. Trying to defeat him helps me for when I go against high school kids, it helps me put them on their backs and helps me with my quickness. I'm a lot quicker getting off the ball than the other kids and, if you watch my film, I'm always the first one to move. That's always a competition, even with my teammates. I have to be better than them, it's about always being the best."
The older Carroll brother, Chris, was on his way to becoming a recruited football prospect before an MCL tear derailed the offensive tackle's career. However, he still likes to mix it up with his younger brother, who credits Chris for much of his development.
"He was actually getting a lot of looks before the injury," the younger brother remembered. "In high school, he was 6-7, 300 pounds so he was an offensive tackle and now he is 6-8, 315; he's a big guy. It's helped me because ever since I was younger, I would try to beat him up and that's a competition right there. We've been going out in the yard for years and practicing. I'll try to get past him, but he used to put me on my back every time and I'd just have to get back up. We wrestle each other and that gets me stronger. There's always going to be that one person out there that can stop you, I believe he's that one person. I believe that whenever I get in front of somebody else, I'm better than that boy because my brother has prepared me."
Carroll said that a devotion to the weight room that started during his sophomore year has helped him gain much of the 40 pounds he has put on in the past 12 months. He now lifts five days a week, works out with a personal trainer and happily reported that his steadily improving numbers currently sit at 290 pounds for bench press - an improvement of 90 pounds since his sophomore year best - and 405 pounds on the squat, despite suffering a broken bone in his back during his freshman year.
As a junior, Carroll helped Cardinal Gibbons go 11-2 and reach the third round of the NCHSAA 3AA playoffs. They won their third-straight Carolina 6 crown after going through the conference slate unbeaten and Carroll earned all-conference laurels at defensive tackle, where he finished with eight sacks. Thanks to that performance in the fall, colleges are starting to check in on Carroll.
"NC State has been sending me letters since Sept. 1, when they're allowed to start, and I was just invited to the Duke Junior Day," he reported. "Georgia Tech has been recently sending me letters, too.
"Coach Petercuskie is recruiting me for NC State and I've been getting emails from them, too."
Hearing from the Wolfpack coaches has been like a dream come true for the local defender, who plays his home games right across the street from Carter-Finley Stadium.
"I've always been a Syracuse fan because my dad liked them but, in North Carolina, I love NC State. I'm sure I have a little bit of an advantage being so close to the school, but I like it a lot and have been in Raleigh for most of my life.
"I love NC State. I went there over the summer and toured the place, it was unbelievable. Their weight room was huge, their athletic room was unbelievable, I love their stadium, I love their practice field. I've always been a Hurricanes fan, so I'm over there by the stadium all the time. I love it over there."
NC State is the only school that Carroll has checked out so far, but he's been multiple times. In addition to the previous unofficial last summer, he recently attended their Junior Day on Jan. 21. The big man would like to stay close to home for school and talked about some other programs he would like to hear from.
"I'd love to hear from ECU and Wake Forest," he said. "I'd love to stay in-state. I've kind of been a fan of ECU, a kid from my school went there and he loves it, and Wake Forest is close to home, it's a big school and I like that.
"I'd like to go to a big school and being close to home is probably the biggest factor so my family can come see the games. The coaching staff and getting along with the coach is also a big thing. I love my high school coach and get along with him great; I believe a coach can alter what you think about a sport. For example, I'm done with basketball because a coach ruined that for me; but now, I'm focused on football."
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