Glenn Carson started every game the past two seasons at linebacker for Penn State, a football program long known as "Linebacker University."
Carson played one pressure-packed game after another in front of 100,000 screaming fans on a regular basis during his career at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa.
But none of that could have prepared the Southern Regional High School graduate and Manahawkin native for the meat market that is the NFL recruiting process and the week he's had in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Carson is one of three Nittany Lions set to play in the 89th annual East-West Shrine Game today at 4 p.m. He will play for the East team and head coach Jerry Glanville, former head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Oilers.
NFL Network will televise the game.
The East-West Shrine Game is the longest running college all-star game in the country and serves as a showcase for highly regarded players to display their talents in front of NFL teams and scouts.
Carson arrived in St. Petersburg last Saturday and said he has undergone multiple tests and interviews to test not only his physical but also his mental prowess.
Carson knew everything was fair game when he found himself parading across a stage for 60 NFL scouts wearing nothing but compression shorts.
"It's a pretty crazy process," Carson said by phone from St. Petersburg on Thursday. "You wouldn't believe some of the stuff you go through."
Carson has been sitting down for group and 1-on-1 interviews all week, getting pelted with rapid-fire questions on everything from football knowledge to personal history.
He couldn't get into specifics, saying that some questions were so random and out of left field that the teams would know if he was speaking about them.
The temperature at game time today is expected to be in the mid-50s, pretty typical this time of year for the popular vacation spot. But Carson is in town for business, not pleasure.
He hired an agent after the college season and has been training in Florida.
"I just hope that I can showcase my abilities," Carson said. "There are tons of scouts here watching, and I hope the scouts get to know who I am and watch me compete against an even higher level of competition."
Carson has been playing football at an elite level for years. As a senior at Southern Regional in 2008-09, Carson was a wrestling and football standout. He led the Rams football team with 818 rushing yards, made 89 tackles and two sacks and recovered a fumble.
That winter, Carson won the 215-pound state wrestling championship in Atlantic City and was named The Press Wrestler of the Year.
His senior year at Pen•State also was memorable. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker led the Nittany Lions with 90 tackles and was 12th in the Big Ten Conference averaging 7½ tackles per game. Carson was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection and finished 10th in Penn State history with 261 tackles.
"I don't want to sit back and reflect on that until it's all said and done," Carson said. "I just want to continue to get better and try to better myself for the next level."
There are roughly 246 players on NFL active rosters who previously played in the East-West game.
Carson hopes to add to that number. He knows draft prognosticators and so-called experts will spend day and night trying to predict the draft.
"I'm just trying to ignore all of that noise," Carson said. "There are too many things that can change before draft day. That's all speculation. You really just don't know."
Carson doesn't know in which round he will be drafted, or even if he will be drafted at all, and he doesn't seem worried.
He just wants a chance to play on Sundays.
"That has been my dream ever since I was a little kid," Carson said. "I remember going back to second and third grade and the 'what do you want to do when you grow up?' This was it.
"It's getting close, and I can feel how close I am to it. I'm just trying to stay focused so I can live that dream I have always wanted."
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