I will begin posting evaluations of the Top Players from the Class of 2011
here on SCVarsity.com. Shon Carson is one of the top prospects from the Palmetto
State in both football and baseball. AS the NO. 7 ranked player in the
SCVarsity.com's Top Thirty Players and today, we take a look at why he is ranked
where he is at and what makes him so special as a player.
Speed kills. Unfortunately, much like the wide receiver position, the
evaluation of the running back position at the high school level is often
entirely based on speed.
However, qualities such as quickness through the hole, run vision, pick and
slide skills, balance and change of direction skills are every bit as important.
A player termed an all-purpose back with excellent size and power is the ideal
prospect for most programs.
While speed is nice, quickness is great. There are a lot of great running
backs at the college level who lack great 40 speed, but have exceptional
Also, with so many spread offensive sets, today's running backs must be
versatile enough to catch the ball out of the backfield. The running back with
the ability to split out wide and create mismatches in the passing game is the
ideal choice. It also helps if they have some skills as return specialists.
There are plenty of other areas used to judge running backs. The ability to
make tacklers miss and eliminate a lot of head-on collisions is a great
indicator of a back's ability to stay healthy.
Blocking is another under-evaluated skill when it comes to grading backs.
Most freshmen entering college have not spent a lot of time working on their
blocking skills. If you ask any college coach, a freshman running back is more
likely to sit on the bench or come out on passing downs - not for his
inefficiencies as a runner, but for his lack of success as a blocker and his
inability to pick up the blitz.
It is very rare when you get a back who can do everything: run, catch and
even return. These guys give opposing defenses nightmares, and they can change
the personality of an offense.
I have eight specific criteria I look at when evaluating running backs and I
won't go into specifics of everyone of them right now, but here is my evaluation
of Shon Carson based on my criteria.
Jim Baxter's Evaluation
Inside Ability: Carson has outstanding ability to pick his holes and slide
through them, lending credibility to his level of vision in traffic and his
ability to cut and change directions with incredible top end speed.
Outside Ability: There is no doubt that his speed can beat guys to the edge
and when he gets there, his change of direction speed allows him to really elude
Elusiveness: Shon has the ability to avoid tackles and because of that and
his change of direction speed, rarely takes a big hit. He is great in space and
is able to find it with his vistion.
Power: Shon gets behind his pads very well and has deceptive strength. One of
the things that makes him hard to tackle on the inside game is his speed rarely
allows more than a hand and arm to get on him and his strength makes it
difficult to arm tackle him. He is always going forward, even after
Blocking: Shon was not asked to block in the offense he was in. His instincts
along with the rest of his skill set lead me to believe he could be a very good
blocker. His size would be a concern in this area at the SEC level of
Hands: He can make the catch out of the backfield and
downfield, as well. He does not have a problem with fumbles and protects the
ball very well when running in traffic.
Durability: He can definitely take a hit. His frame is
compact and layered in muscle. He is a touch kid who doesn't seem to wear down
during the game and, as I pointed out earlier, his elusiveness keeps people from
getting a solid hit on him.
Running Style: I've heard people call him a slasher but he
think he's more of a "darter," in that he is so explosive and can
stop-go on a dime and reach top speed quickly. Incredible ability to separate
Strengths: His skill set is complete. He has the speed,
hands, elusiveness, and durability you need in a back playing in the SEC.
Weakness: Very little; he does have a tendency to outrun
his blockers, which is not something you want to do at the next level. He has
the vision and speed to stay behind the blockers and make his move when it is
there at the next level, but that is something he will just have to learn.
Similarities: Carson reminds me of Marshall Faulk and Emmitt Smith.
Concern over Carson is his baseball career. Right now, in my opinion, his arm
is little more than average for the next level. For him to develop into a big
time player on the diamond, he would almost have to be full time baseball. I
don't see him doing it otherwise. That said, it is probably eventually going to
come down to a decision on how far he wants to progress in either sport.
I believe he is a player who can be a great contributor in the football
program. He is not going to be a 20-25 carry a game guy, but I could see him
being dangerous in the one-back set coming out of the backfield as a receiver
and as a guy who could spell Lattimore in a part time capacity.
SCVarsity.com publisher Jim Baxter has been on top of
high school sports for more than two decades, delivering player rankings
for football, basketball, and baseball. He has written recruiting
articles for various publications over the past nine years, including
The Deep South Recruiting Guide. He is the founder and publisher of
SCVarsity.com. His game-of-the-week previews and evaluations can
be heard on 107.5 The Game during football season and he is co-host of
the Saturday Morning South Carolina Coaches' Show on 107.5 The Game.