Game Changer for Former Mauldin Star: Former Mauldin star misses chance to play Clemson, but sets mind to future games

Carson Smith-Chattanooga-2012-2

Written by:  Scott Keepfer

Greenville News

http://www.greenvilleonline.com

CLEMSON – The football record book at The Citadel isn’t exactly chock full of monumental victories, but there have been a handful of memorable moments.

Foremost among them are four straight victories against FBS opponents from 1990-92, including a 38-35 victory at South Carolina in 1990 and a 10-3 win at Arkansas in 1992.

Carson Smith, a former Mauldin High standout who plays at The Citadel, wasn’t born when those victories unfolded, but he’s heard about the giant-killings of the past and knows all about capitalizing on opportunities, which explains why he’s had Saturday’s date circled on his calendar since enrolling at The Citadel in 2011.

The Citadel plays at Clemson Saturday at high noon, affording a small military school in Charleston a chance to shock the world and make some new history.

But Smith, a preseason All-Southern Conference linebacker who led the Bulldogs with 91 tackles as a sophomore in 2012, won’t be suited up for the game.

He’ll be sporting his No. 9 jersey, but will remain on the sideline courtesy of a season-ending injury he suffered last August, on the first day in full pads, on the second-to-last play of practice

Smith suffered a broken fibula and tibia and dislocated an ankle, ending what was shaping up to be the best season of his career before it had begun.

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“It was completely a freak accident,” Smith said. “I took a step to make a tackle and my ankle stopped and my body kept going.”

Suddenly, there was no season opener, no showdown against Furman, no homecoming game and no cherished trip to Clemson to play in front of 80,000-plus at Death Valley.

No chance to flash his all-conference abilities.

No chance to play against Clemson center Ryan Norton, his former teammate at Mauldin.

“Sometimes I really wish I was out there,” Smith admits. “And of course I wish I could play against Clemson. Going to games at Clemson when I was growing up was one of my favorite things. But it is what it is.”

What it is has turned into a positive for Carson Smith. He realized quickly that there’s no way to turn back the hands of time, to start fall camp all over again or to get a re-do on his foot plant on the second-to-last play of the first full day in pads last August.

It’s a sign of Smith’s maturity that he’s handled it as well as he has.

Heck, I’m still pouting over missing my senior class trip thanks to a stomach virus – and that was 33 years ago.

Smith has taken it in stride, putting the injury behind him in short order and immediately focusing on getting back to where he wants to be, both physically and mentally.

“There was a good way and a bad way to look at it, and I chose the good way I suppose,” Smith said. “Now I have an extra full year to prepare and I’m going to have two more full seasons.”

That response comes as no surprise to Doug Shaw, who coached Smith at Mauldin.

“I’m sure he was chomping at the bit to play against Clemson, but he realizes what he needs to do,” Shaw said. “I know he’ll bounce back and be better than he was before. He’s such a phenomenal kid. Every coach would love to have a Carson Smith on their team.”

Shaw certainly did. Smith not only set himself apart academically and in the weight room, but also was a Shrine Bowl selection at Mauldin. Clemson showed some interest, but had linebackers Stephone Anthony, Tony Steward and Lateek Townsend in the fold.

“There was only so much I could do to compare to that,” Smith said. “All things led me here to The Citadel, and I think that was the better choice.

“I wasn’t brought up in the military lifestyle, but I was brought up with military discipline. I always knew ‘Yes sir’ and ‘No sir’ and what to do and when to do it. So coming to The Citadel wasn’t a massive change.”

And perhaps a natural fit for a family with a history of split loyalties.

Smith’s grandfather is a big South Carolina fan.

Smith’s father, Kelly, played at Furman and was a linebacker and special teams headhunter on the Paladins’ national championship squad in 1988.

Smith’s older sister, Curren, is a Clemson graduate, which means all of the above should make for an interesting afternoon Saturday at Death Valley.

The game — the one he’d been pointing toward for so long – will come and go and Carson Smith will still be the same Carson Smith.

He’ll watch the action unfold from the sideline and still be able to bask in the moment of being on the field in front of 80,000 plus. He’ll feel the excitement and hopes to be privy to moments when The Citadel will get the best of the team he grew up cheering for.

“Everyone knows that Clemson’s faster and more athletic,” Smith said. “But I can promise you that we are more disciplined than they are.”

And sometimes that goes a long way on the football field.

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Whatever the outcome, Smith will be philosophical. And excited about what his future holds.

“I’m going to miss playing against Clemson, but that’s alright,” Smith said. “Next year I’ll get to play at Florida State, then at South Carolina in 2015.”

Something tells me Smith would rather have a crack at the Gamecocks anyway.

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The Citadel vs. Clemson Football Game

austin wiles

By Cadet Austin Wiles

On Nov. 23, the football team will travel to Death Valley to play the Clemson Tigers. To many, this game is referred to as a “money game” for The Citadel, but to the players and cadets at the school this is a dream come true. Though all of the players are Citadel football players, there are a few of them that deep down bleed purple and orange.

I recall a former teammate of mine for two years, a long snapper by the name of Thomas Oswald.  Oswald was an exceptionally huge Clemson fan.  He grew up in Clemson, his dog is named Clemson, and his mom works at Clemson.  That says it all.

Last year we would joke around by asking Thomas whether or not he’d like for The Citadel to beat Clemson, or Clemson beat The Citadel and go on to win the National Championship.  He answered for Clemson to win and then win the National Championship. I would say that it is a fair assumption that many of the Cadets wouldn’t want The Citadel to win if it meant Clemson would lose their shot at the title.

Clemson

On the other hand, I know for a fact that a lot of the guys are really excited to strap it up for their friends and family in Death Valley. A lot of players grew up going to Clemson games and now they have the opportunity to be the ones playing. Those players, unlike Oswald, will be traveling to Death Valley to win.

Though the Athletics Department will be receiving a large portion of money, it’s safe to say that it is an opportunity for the Bulldogs to show their pride to the state of South Carolina and give it their all to present what may be among the biggest upsets in South Carolina college football history.

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Cadet Austin Wiles is a member of the football team.

The Blue Brothers

Appalachian State Cover

By Mike Hoffman – Sports Information Director

The hallways were not safe and the recess fields provided little protection. Hard feelings prevailed, bones were broken and counselors were called in to quell the passions that flared up without warning.

Yep, the Montagues and Capulets had nothing on the fifth graders at Christ Our King School in Mount Pleasant. But it was in this environment that the seeds of a lifelong friendship between Bay Amrhein and Thomas Warren were planted.

The duo has been teammates throughout their time at Christ Our King, Bishop England High School and now as seniors at The Citadel. They played football and basketball together, winning consecutive state championships in seventh and eighth grade. However, it was another sport that almost came between them.

“My homeroom had all of the kids who played football; Thomas’ had the kids who played soccer. That’s how the homerooms were divided,” said Amrhein.

“I was neutral because I played football and soccer,” added Warren. “I was friends with Bay but he hated all my soccer friends. Every day someone got hurt or there was a fight.”

“You could feel the tension all day long,” remembered Amrhein. “As we got older there was bullying going on. Looking back on it, it’s hilarious.”

Childhood rivalries eventually gave way to the relative maturity of high school where Amrhein and Warren were again teammates on the Bishop England football team. Warren continued to play soccer as well, earning all-state honors in that sport while helping lead the Bishops to two state titles.

Bay Amrhein-ODU-2013-1

And both were thriving on the football field. Amrhein had 24 career sacks and was named to the all-state team his senior season. Warren was ranked as the No. 38 kicker in the nation the same year. The Charleston-area natives had choices of where they wanted to attend college.

“At first I wanted to leave and get very far away from here,” said Amrhein. “When Coach (Bob) Fello started recruiting me when I was a sophomore, I told him there was no way I was going to The Citadel.

“But I always realized in the back of my mind I was going there but never told a soul, even my parents. I kept thinking I would change my mind.”

Amrhein expected to have at least a few of his friends from the Bishop England football team, including Warren and former Bulldog Martin Fosberry, joining him at The Citadel. As time went on, however, he began to get a sinking feeling.

“I committed to play here after the first semester of my senior year. Then Martin said he was going to Auburn and not play football, and Thomas said he was going to go to (South) Carolina.”

In the end all three wound up at The Citadel, with Warren committing over Christmas break, but it was Amrhein and Warren whose friendship continued to blossom. The two became roommates following their knob year and have been the football team’s version of Brangelia ever since. Warren laughed at that comparison.

“We were like the Boyle brothers (former Bulldogs and twin brothers Austin and Davis),” said Warren. “Our teammates joked that you never see one without the other.”

Since both were business administration majors who graduated in May 2013 and are now pursuing their MBAs at The Citadel, their time together extended beyond the barracks and the football field.

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“We would wake up in our room, go to the same classes, take naps at the same time and then went out to football,” said Amrhein. “We ate every meal together. At times we’d see each other 24 hours in a row for five days until the weekend. And we also lived together during the summer.”

One would think that all this familiarity would breed at least a little contempt, and the pair acknowledges there are times that all their closeness is not necessarily a good thing. But both are equally quick to point out that they don’t let bad feelings linger.

“We’ve always been open and straightforward with each other,” admitted Amrhein. “If one of us got on the other’s nerves, we are like ‘I need to get out of here; I can’t hang out with you right now.’ But we haven’t been in any big arguments or fights.”

As the end of their time at The Citadel begins to draw near, could these two possibly see a move away from Charleston? Perhaps not surprisingly, both see a future which takes them to other parts of the area – or country – but with the understanding that home is always at the forefront of their minds.

“It would be a good thing for me to leave for a little while, but I want to come back here,” said Amrhein. “My whole family is here and family is very important to me. But it would be a good experience to see what else is out there.”

Amrhein, the son of an airline pilot, has had opportunities to travel and see the country. Warren, on the other hand, has been a bit of a homebody.

“When we went to Chattanooga two years ago, it was the first time I’d ever been in a state that wasn’t touching the Atlantic Ocean,” said Warren.

“I love being from Charleston. My whole family lives in the same neighborhood,” continued Warren. “My grandma lives five doors down, and my aunt lives across the street. But I’ve been here for 22 years so I want to get away, maybe get a job in the region, so I can miss it and want to come back.”

There will be a time – and sooner rather than later – when Amrhein and Warren won’t be together. It will be an adjustment but time and distance cannot break the bonds that have gotten stronger through the years.

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“When the season is over, I don’t think much will change between myself and Bay,” predicted Warren. “He will always be one of my best friends and someone I can always count on. We have had a good run, and I am glad to have had Bay as my roommate and teammate.

It’s “Cribby” Time

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Logan Cribb is a senior pitcher on The Citadel baseball team

By Cadet G. Coleman

Every pitcher on the baseball diamond is expected to have a big, tall frame in Division I baseball. The Citadel’s Logan Cribb is definitely not the case.

Cribb is a Rock Hill native where he attended Rock Hill High School. He lettered three times in baseball and was named the team’s MVP as well as receiving all-region and all-state honors his senior year. As a highlight, he was named to the North/South All-Star game his senior year.

Cribb was never the biggest or strongest on the mound, but he produced a certain type of charisma that pushed him beyond other starting pitchers.

Cribb is called “a junky lefty.” He is not going to overpower anyone in the batter’s box but he is going to locate his pitches very precisely and strike out a batter out with his off-speed pitches. His curveball and changeup are one of the best I have faced and I am sure that many other batters from our team and other teams would say the same. Cribb is a very vocal leader and always has a lot to say. He will let you know what you are doing wrong and whether or not that is acceptable.

Cribb made a name for himself in the spring his freshman year. The South Carolina Gamecocks came to Riley Park to face The Citadel in a midweek battle. Coach Fred Jordan told Cribb that he was going to get the start and he was very nervous and excited, just like any other freshman pitcher would be when they would be facing a top team in the country.

Cribb pitched scoreless innings against the Gamecocks. He allowed eight hits and struck out three. The Citadel won the game, 2-0, and this was the first time that The Citadel shutout South Carolina since 1971. This amazing performance by Cribb earned him Southern Conference Co-Pitcher of the Week as well as CB360 Primetime National Pitcher of the Week. The most amazing thing about this win was the simple fact that Cribb did not let this game go to his head at all. He stayed humble and was respected by the team because of that.

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He ended his freshman year with 25 appearances, a 1-4 record and a 5.36 earned run average. The Citadel had a rough season his freshman year, but had faith in him to bounce back and keep improving for next season. In Cribb’s sophomore year, he recorded 14 starts and pitched in 16 games with a 3-4 record and a 4.89 earned run average. He was second on the team in innings pitched with 77.1.

I am looking forward to watching Cribb’s performance for his senior year season here at Riley Park. He is again positioned to be a weekend starter and I feel like with his experience and sound leadership, he will lead the Bulldogs to yet another Southern Conference championship which will be held at Riley Park in May.

Cadet G. Coleman, of Winnsboro, SC, is in Andy Solomon’s Sport Communications class.

Don’t Overlook the Team Manager’s Role

Cadet Kevin Connell

Cadet Kevin Connell

By Cadet Kevin Connell

Throughout a game, there are multiple people that participate in the game other than the players, coaches and officials. The person no one thinks about is the manager.  Every team in the country has managers, but none have the managers that are at The Citadel.

Just like every athlete, these special individuals go to class, participate in school activities and even go to practice.  Most do not call them athletes.  These individuals are at every practice early setting up things used throughout that practice.  They also help coaches during the practice.

When the players go back to the other activities they do throughout their day, the managers wash everything and prepare themselves and their respective team for the next day.

Cadet Justin Lanham

Cadet Justin Lanham

Our teams’ managers are from all regions and backgrounds.  Justin Lanham is the head manager for the basketball team, but also helps out in the laundry room passing out towels and handing out the next day’s equipment while the football team is at practice.  During the summer Lanham was a caddie for his best friend who travelled the county playing golf.  He travelled with his best friend while the football team was not practicing.  Justin has been a manger for four years now and loves the atmosphere of the games.  He looks forward to flying commercial airlines after he graduates in May 2014.

Managers give everything they have to help keep the practices and games go as smoothly as possible.  Every morning when an athlete goes to his lockerroom to either workout or go to rehab for a recovery, these players always look for clean attire.  There is always something in their locker that is clean and folded neatly.  The managers are sometimes called out to participate for those players who couldn’t come to practice.  I call them “players” even though they were not the best, yet they love the game so much that they were determined to keep their dream alive and help with the team.

Bruce Amick

Bryce Amick

Josh Terry is a former high school hockey player who is the baseball manager.  He decided to come to The Citadel for a great education and ended up becoming someone that is always there when a baseball player needs anything.  Coach Fred Jordan has had many great managers in his 22 seasons. The Amick brothers — Stephen and Bryce — from Columbia were the last managers before Josh.  Bryce was a mentor for Josh and taught him everything that Coach Jordan likes and dislikes so that it makes life easier for everyone.

The managers are always being supervised wherever they are by Kevin Yeager.  Yeager is the head equipment manager for all of our sports, and his cadet assistants are the best.  Whether it is putting out equipment for practice, folding towels before games or even spraying water into the player’s mouth during the heat of the contest, they give 100 percent effort every day.  Yeager seeks perfection, and if it is not, he will make certain it gets done.

The guys wearing red on the football sideline carrying the balls during every game has been voted as the best ball boy team in the conference three year in a row because of Yeager.  If Yeager does not think they can get the job done, then that person won’t get the opportunity again.  Next game, look around on the field or court and you will notice a certain group of individuals that do not have on uniforms.  They are either talking to the referees about what they can do to help or are assisting the coaches with any and everything.  These individuals are no longer laundry boys, but the backbone of a team and he/she will rarely get noticed.

And that is fine with them because they enjoy being behind the scenes.

Kevin Connell, a junior from Gray, Tenn., is a pitcher on the baseball team.

Leadership Day Is a Winner All Around

Zach Young

By Cadet Zach Young

Leadership Day is one of the most anticipated days here at The Citadel for students, teachers and alumni. I believe Leadership Day is a well-rounded opportunity for Citadel Cadets to gain experience in leadership by helping out in the community. The Alumni Association makes a great effort to help us become more of a principled leader by supporting this day off from school to help others. Teachers and students are always excited about this day as there are no classes and it gives Cadets a chance to get off campus.

I had a great time on Leadership Day, like most of my classmates that I worked with. I went to a charter school where I interacted with little kids and helped them read children’s books. I believe that allowing Cadets to help children on Leadership Day puts a huge impact on their lives.

Cadets may not know it, but I think these children look up to Cadets and consider us as a role model. There are several kids out in the community that can use a role model, and I believe that we, as Cadets, by visiting their schools can at least impact a few of these children, if not but for a several hours.

This past Leadership Day (Oct. 23), Cadets went to schools and others helped with some sort of community service-type labor. I believe that allowing Cadets to help with the community promotes the leadership principles and respect for those who believe in the moral standards of the Cadets.

Leadership Day

There are not many colleges in America that have Leadership Day like we do here at The Citadel, and I believe that this concept helps imply the meaning behind our principled leadership as a Citadel Cadet.

Cadet Zach Young, from North Charleston, is a member of The Citadel’s wrestling team.

Tuesdays with Tony: The 1975 Furman Game Was Joe Sumrall’s Day to Shine

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EDITOR’S NOTE:  Col. Tony Lackey ’61 has been around Citadel Athletics since the mid-1950s and provides a weekly blog on some of the sports highlights that he recalls.

By Col. Tony Lackey ‘61

As told to Andy Solomon

It was November 15, 1975, when rival Furman invaded Johnson Hagood Stadium for our Homecoming game.  The Paladins were faring pretty well during that season while the Bulldogs were struggling with a 5-4 record, trying to secure the first winning record in three years.

We were coming off a tough 7-0 loss at Richmond the previous week, and the training room was filled with injured players.  Included on that lengthy list of hurt Bulldogs who were unable to play in the Furman game were our top two quarterbacks, Gene Dotson and Rodney Lanning.

Our third-string quarterback was Joe Sumrall, a likeable guy from Warner Robins, Ga.  Joe hadn’t seen much on-field action except for running the scout team’s offense, but was inserted for the Furman game.

As the football team TAC Officer then, I recall that we had a lot of great kids on that squad that included the likes of Brian Ruff, David Sollazzo, Ron Shelley, Chip Seignious and Ralph Ferguson, to make a few.

Brian Ruff

Brian Ruff

Our two running backs that game were underclassmen Alvin Perkins of Washington, DC and Peter Bistrain of East Hampton, NY.

There was a great crowd (17,345 was the attendance) and atmosphere for this game.  Clearly, it was a close contest throughout, but I remember that Perkins, who came from a military family and who later became a full colonel in the US Army, broke loose for a 50 or 60-yard touchdown run to seal the victory.

Our defense played very well that day.  Our defense that had the likes of Sollazzo on the defensive line and Ruff – truly an All-American in every sense of the word – at linebacker, our defense made play after play and we upset our rivals, 13-9.

The win assured us of a winning season, which was Coach Bobby Ross’s first in three tries at The Citadel.  But what I remember most about this contest was that Sumrall played the game of his life and that Perkins had a memorable day.

Of course, the upset victory was against rival Furman and on Homecoming, so the celebration afterwards was a great one.

As a side note, the Cadets’ annual raid on the Furman campus by the infamous “Furman Raiders” resulted in the obligatory 120 tours per “raider.”

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