The Transformation of Chris Carson: ‘He’s Running Like the Guy We Recruited’

first_imgIt was early February 2015 when Mike Gundy boarded a private Oklahoma State airplane to make the nearly 900-mile trip to see Chris Carson. The highly-recruited junior college running back had previously committed to in-state school Georgia but word had gotten out the Carson may be reconsidering his decision.Mike Gundy brought a special guest with him.When Gundy sans mullet walked into Carson’s house he carried with him Barry Sanders’ 1988 Heisman trophy. The message was simple: We’ve got our star quarterback for the future. We’ve got stud receivers. You’re the missing piece.The Cowboys’ running game was in dire straits coming off an seven-win 2014 season that showcased one of Oklahoma State’s worse offenses in years. Carson was also looking at an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream.Carson talked about one reason he chose the Cowboys.“One of my favorite running backs was Kendall Hunter,” Carson said. “So I knew OSU put some people in the NFL, but I didn’t really think it was more than Georgia at the time. But after they broke it down to me, I see that they actually put out more than Georgia. That was a big factor in my decision.”Carson officially de-committed from Georgia on February 2 and committed to play in Stillwater that same day.Since then, Carson has had his ups and downs. He’s struggled with minor injuries and ineffective play. He’s seen his offensive line hit its own learning curve.But now, after the better part of two seasons, Carson and Oklahoma State’s running game have finally hit their stride.During Saturday’s win in Fort Worth, Carson had a career-best 146 yards and a touchdown as part of the best two-headed rushing exhibition OSU has put on in a couple of years.Since coming back from a hand injury sustained early this season, Carson has been on a tear, averaging 7.7 yards a carry and scoring six touchdowns in five games.Mike Gundy is proud of his senior running back.“The attitude he brings to the game, in the running game – he’s a completely different person than he was last year, and I told the team that,” said Gundy. “He’s going to be in an NFL camp now, in my opinion.”Now that leaping ability and imposing stature no longer seems contrived. His physical skills have become a revelation. With the help of an improved offensive line and the emergence of a star true freshman in Justice Hill, Carson is actually able to use his skill set.On senior night, Chris Carson put his stamp on Cowboy football history by not scoring a touchdown.Late in the game, after completely destroying a Texas Tech defender to get the first down, Carson took one step over his helpless victim and took a knee on the Red Raiders’ 4-yard line, effectively sealing the win while staring down what would have been a career-high third rushing touchdown that night.Mike Gundy was asked to describe who Chris Carson is now.“He’s a pretty good college running back now. He’s been a really good weapon for our team. I cautioned our team about listening to the outside after the second and third game of the year. I cautioned them again about listening to the outside when people are going to start telling them how good they are.”“But I felt comfortable in telling our team and Chris Carson today that he’s the most improved player on our team. He’s grown up a lot as a young man because it’s not easy to look past people saying, ‘What happened to you?’“He’s running like the guy we recruited now.”Chris Carson never won a Heisman. He’s not an All-American and probably won’t hear his name from the podium next spring during the NFL Draft. Maybe it hasn’t all gone exactly as he’d planned.But with his college career nearly over, Carson has (at least) two more chances to build on his legacy at Oklahoma State and help the Cowboys win a conference championship. And that’s something very few of those running backs that preceded him, the ones Mike Gundy told him about and persuaded him with, can say.Not Barry Sanders. Not Thurman Thomas. Not Kendall Hunter. Not Keith Toston. All played in the NFL, yes, but none hoisted a trophy at the end of the year with OU in their wake. In that sense, Chris Carson still has a chance to make history.If you’re looking for the comments section, it has moved to our forum, The Chamber. You can go there to comment and holler about these articles, specifically in these threads. You can register for a free account right here and will need one to comment.If you’re wondering why we decided to do this, we wrote about that here. Thank you and cheers!last_img

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