Before Justin Carrington headed off to a football camp this summer at Penn State, Liberty Coach Tommy Buzzo made repeated attempts to stress how important the opportunity was for his senior tailback.
"You don't know how many times he preached to me that I had to go out there and perform," Carrington said, "that I couldn't take the opportunity lightly. He wanted me to understand that my future was at stake."
Carrington was at his best in front of the many scouts in attendance of what was essentially a football combine, running a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash, his fastest time to date. He was also clocked at 4.08 in the shuttle run, shaving more than two-tenths of a second off his previous best.
"There were tons of coaches there watching, and I guess that's the kind of pressure situation that I like," said Carrington, who is still weighing his college options but already has multiple Division I scholarship offers. "Even Coach Buzzo is always saying how pressure doesn't seem to faze me. It makes me better, I guess."
That could prove troublesome for the Eagles' opponents this season. Last year, when the spotlight was trained on All-Met A.J. Brown -- and the two were splitting carries -- Carrington still managed to rack up 1,131 yards and 14 touchdowns on 119 carries, an area-best 9.5 yards per rush.
This season, even though the deep and talented Eagles have a host of other backs who will spell Carrington, he will be the team's primary ball carrier.
"Make no mistake, I will always put the team first," said Carrington, an honorable mention All-Met a year ago. "But I also won't shy away from the spotlight.
"I know that everyone is looking at me to show what I got. Last season was the A.J. show. It wasn't until the end of the season that it became the A.J. and Justin show. Now I feel like it's my turn to carry the load for this team."
Buzzo said the combination of Carrington's speed and size -- he bulked up his 6-foot-1 frame and now weighs 200 pounds -- that make him so difficult to contain.
"His speed is significant," Buzzo said. "But he's not only fast, he's also a big, powerful kid. So we're only going to allow him to make one cut this year and then sprint.
"There's not going to be a lot of cutting because he doesn't need that. If you give him one seam, he can take it to the house. And if there's not a seam, then hopefully he can power his way through for a few yards and then huddle it back up and go at it again."