Preps Talk

Glenbard West's Carlson gets 4-star film review

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Glenbard West's Carlson gets 4-star film review

Hayden Carlson, Glenbard West's junior safety, has built a reputation that Pro Football Hall of Famers Ronnie Lott and Dick "Night Train" Lane would be proud of. He is a 6-foot, 180-pound defensive back who hits with all the ferocity of Dick Butkus, like Moby Dick in a goldfish bowl.

And while his body of work includes such prestigious awards as Defensive Player of the Year in the West Surburban Silver conference and Player of the Game in the 2012 Class 7A championship, it all comes down to one defining moment -- "the hit" or "the tackle" -- that has re-shaped his future.

The film doesn't lie.

"I have watched the replay about 10 or 12 times," Carlson said. "I have a tape. Every once in a while, I turn it on. I have watched the entire game twice. Other times I just run the tape to the last three minutes. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't exciting to watch. Every time I watch it."

In case you have been living on another planet and missed the Class 7A championship game between Glenbard West and Lincoln-Way East on Thanksgiving weekend, Carlson is referring to the closing minutes, when Lincoln-Way East was driving in a desperate attempt to overcome a 10-6 deficit.

"They are driving. They got to our 14. They had fourth-and-10. That play was the defining moment in the game," Carlson said. "Lincoln-Way East quarterback Tom Fuessel) went left. I went that way. As he broke containment, I went with him. When I saw him cross the line of scrimmage, I knew I could come up and make the tackle.

"There are other guys staying back to look at the receivers. I had no one to lock on to. I was watching the quarterback (Fuessel) and looking at his eyes. I saw he was going to run. I remember he put his head down and was determined to get to the pylon. I tried to get in the way of it.

"I threw my body at him. I gave all I had. It was the state championship game. I wasn't saving my body for anything else. I got up. My right shoulder was in a lot of pain. He was short (of the goal line) and laying there. I figured I had stopped him short. I felt a sense of relief. That was the scariest drive I have ever been experienced in my life. I was so satisfied to get off the field."

It preserved Glenbard West's victory and forever changed Carlson's life. When he was named the DuPage Valley's Defensive Player of the Year, he said he "didn't expect it in the least." In fact, he didn't realize the award even existed. But making the single most important play in the state championship game? Well, you don't forget moments like that.

"He probably is the best defensive player in the state," Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet said.

"My stature has elevated considerably," Carlson said. "It is weird that people talk about my name. My parents tell me when they talk to someone and they bring up my name. Hopefully, I can get a pretty girl to go to prom with me. I'm not dating anyone now.

"Most important, now I know I can play at a high level. My future has been affected. I can play this game. I'm better than I thought I was. I never thought I would hear from major schools. Now I am. I guess there is a reason for that. It is exciting to know the opportunities I have been able to acquire."

Related: Hayden Carlson's Rivals.com page

Carlson has many options, more than ever before. And he can expect even more. He has a 5.28 grade-point average on a 5.0 scale. He is taking advance placement and honors courses. This semester, he is studying English, Spanish, physics, government and pre-calculus. He loves math. He once aspired to the Ivy League. That is still a possibility. But so are major Division I programs.

"I want to play football in college, at the highest level I can," he said. "The success I have had this season and the success we have had as a team have shown how I can affect a game. College coaches come in to see me and they have changed my attitude about the recruiting process.

"Earlier, I thought I was too small. Now I think I can play at the next level, Big Ten or major Division I. I have an offer from Toledo and I have heard from Indiana, Minnesota, Ball State and Cincinnati. I think I will hear from more schools."

He already is preparing for his senior year. With running backs Scott Andrews and Devante Toney and tackle Eric Shute also returning, Glenbard West could win another state title. Carlson plans to hire a personal trainer.

"This is the first year I haven't played basketball," he said. "I want to give my body a rest. Then I will get in the weight room. I want to get bigger, faster and stronger. I never have been timed for the 40-yard dash. I want to put on 10 to 15 pounds. I also want to be a smarter football player.

"I watch tape to see how I can improve. Now I am a free safety in the middle of the field. In college, I could be a free or strong safety. I love to tackle and come up and hit. That is my most natural position, where I am most comfortable."

Carlson's dream school is Illinois. His parents are Illinois graduates. His brother Jack currently is a freshman.

"I show the film to coaches when they show up," he said. "I have a highlight tape in the making right now. Hopefully, that will be seen. The hit will be the first clip. The hit or the tackle. I don't refer to it as anything special."

But it always will be.

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: St. Charles East

Head coach: Bryce Farquhar

How they fared in 2017: 8-3 (4-2 Upstate 8 River Conference), St. Charles East made the 2017 IHSA state Class 8A playoff field. The Saints defeated Oswego East then lost to eventual 8A state champion Lincoln-Way East in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Rock Island

Aug. 31 @ Carmel

Sept. 7 vs Glenbard North

Sept. 14 @ Wheaton South

Sept. 21 vs Geneva

Sept. 28 @ St. Charles North

Oct. 5 vs Batavia

Oct. 12 @ Wheaton North

Oct. 19 vs Lake Park

[MORE: 90 Days to Kickoff - Warren]

Biggest storyline: The Saints have had impressive campaigns the last two seasons. Can they continue to prosper in the newly-formed DuKane Conference?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Justin Jett and OL Dylan Barrett

Biggest holes to fill: The Saints will look to reload at a few key spots including at quarterback, as Clayton Isbell has moved on to Illinois State. Replacing RB/LB Nick Garlisch (South Dakota St.) will be key as well.

EDGY's Early Take: Coach Bryce Farquhar's Saints have produced playoff seasons in back-to-back years. Now, their regular season ramps up a bit with the newly-formed DuKane Conference. The new league features some former Upstate Eight conference foes in St. Charles North, Batavia and Geneva, plus former DuPage Valley members Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North, Glenbard North and Lake Park. Look for the Saints to rely on some experience up front. Three starters are back on the offensive line, including junior OG Dylan Barrett. He has already added several FBS level scholarship offers. 

90 Days to Kickoff: Warren

90 Days to Kickoff: Warren

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Warren Township

Head coach: Bryan McNulty

Assistant coaches: Jim Voutiritsas, Brandon Schild, Justin Van Schaik, Tayler Erbach and Mark Mika

How they fared in 2017: 7-4 (5-2 North Suburban Conference). Warren Township made the IHSA 8A playoff field. The Blue Devils defeated Bolingbrook then lost to Maine South in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule

Aug. 24 vs Barrington

Aug. 31 @ Glenbard North

Sept. 7 vs Waukegan

Sept. 14 vs Libertyville

Sept. 21 @ Lake Forest

Sept. 28 @ Zion-Benton

Oct. 5 vs Lake Zurich

Oct. 12 vs Stevenson

Oct. 19 @ Mundelein

Biggest storyline: Can The Blue Devils make it back-to-back postseason appearances and challenge for the North Suburban Conference title?

Names to watch this season: DL Zack Pelland, DT Willis Singleton and RB Martin Walker

Biggest holes to fill: The Blue Devils will need to find a new pass/catch tandem to replace graduated QB Ian Schilling and a strong group in the skills department, led by WR Micah Jones (Notre Dame).  

EDGY's Early Take: The Blue Devils had a nice 2017 season. After starting seven sophomores on the varsity level a year ago, head coach Bryan McNulty has the rare combination of youth and experience this fall. The defense will be a definite strength going into the season. The offense will rely on the running game, which features four starting offensive linemen back in the fold along with senior RB Martin Walker. If the passing game can come along, this team can once again challenge in the North Suburban Conference race and also in the overall 8A picture.