By Gabriel Stovall
Every year it seems a football player from the four-county Southern Crescent area emerges from the shadows, causing people to ask the questions, “Where did he come from?” and “Why haven’t we noticed him before?”
Last year it was Jonesboro defensive tackle and Tuskegee signee Kali James. James began the season with a beastly reputation, yet void of the college offers and interest to match.
That all changed as the season wore on and James’ motor and productivity seemed to increase by the week. This year, as spring football winds down, and we start looking to the 2016 football season, Fayette County safety/running back Trent Carrington may become the 2016 Kali James.
Despite being a consensus three-star product at safety and amassing 174 tackles over the last two seasons — he registered 78 stops in 2015 with one interception and four forced fumbles — he still does not have a scholarship offer, although at least one Georgia Division I program seems to be warming up to him.
I had the chance to catch up with Carrington right after Fayette County’s spring game Friday night to chat with him about the upcoming season and the recruiting chip on his shoulder.
Here’s what he had to say:
STOVALL: How did it feel to get out on the field and pop the pads in a game-like atmosphere again?
CARRINGTON: “It was great. I was really excited to get out there. I actually, tonight, shined more at running back than at DB. I’ve been splitting some time before at running back, and actually I’ve been playing running back my whole life. I started playing DB in high school because they needed me, but I’m looking forward to playing more running back again.”
STOVALL: So are you looking to stay exclusive on offense this year?
CARRINGTON: “I’m definitely gonna have to stay back there in the secondary and help hold that tight knit group together. I think I’ll be starting on both sides of the ball, but I think they’ll be rotating another running back in to keep me fresh.”
STOVALL: How do you feel about the talent coming back in the secondary?
CARRINGTON: “At least three of the four of us, me and my two corners, have been together and playing together a long time. I think all three of us have great, great potential. I think we can be leaders on field and I think we can guard and compete with any offense that comes out there against us.”
STOVALL: How did playing with a guy like Sean Harper help you last year?
CARRINGTON: “Well what I took from Sean is that he’s a great leader. A great vocal leader. He showed me that you gotta go out there and be explosive, play aggressive, hit violently, play violently and believe that you’re the best player on the field. He really affected me for this year, and I can’t wait to fill in his shoes, and maybe even do better than he did.”
STOVALL: How do you feel you’ve improved as a player from the first year until now?
CARRINGTON: “I’ve been starting since I was as a sophomore, and I had 96 tackles my sophomore year. But since then, I’ve played with great guys my sophomore and junior year and that’s definitely helped me get better through experience. That’s the No. 1 thing that’s helped me improve. I’ve been rolling with the defense so long, I’ve seen a lot of different offensive sets, and now I just react. I don’t think anymore, and I just go play.”
STOVALL: Can you give an example of a time when those instincts took over for you last year?
CARRINGTON: “When we were playing McIntosh, it’s the (second) play on my highlight tape. I was in what we call the shoe position, and I was reading the end. I didn’t even realize I was reading him, and then the ball carrier came up, and I caught him under the chin. It was a beautiful thing.”
*Check out the highlight reel of that play here:
STOVALL: Fayette had some talent last season, but you guys didn’t achieve what you wanted. How do you see this team as being different from last year’s squad?
CARRINGTON: “This team that we have now, we’re so close. The teams before had a few good guys, but we were young and guys were just coming into high school football. But we stuck in together and weathered the storm. People would talk about us, but we didn’t care about it. We just concentrated on the brother next to us. We feel like we can play with anyone in the state.”
STOVALL: Despite finding your way into 247sports.com’s recruiting rankings, you’ve yet to get your first offer. Do you feel underrated, and does it give you added motivation?
CARRINGTON: “I know I’m gonna get some offers this summer once I go to a few camps and coaches have a chance to get a better look at me. The schools most interested in me are Georgia Tech and Mercer. But yeah, that’s definitely gonna bother me. I feel like I’m better than most of these people out here getting these offers. But I plan to keep grinding, and it’s going to show on the field this year. They’re not gonna be able to miss me this year.”