What started as a February experiment has evolved into an important part of Carroll’s offense.
In Class 6A, there aren’t many two-way players. Participation numbers diminish those opportunities. But Carroll has one in senior Tariq Gordon. His conversion from strong safety in 2013 to full-time wide receiver and part-time defensive back in 2014 has been eight months in the making.
And all it took was for head coach Hal Wasson to suggest to Gordon play catch with quarterback Ryan Agnew and the receivers in the offseason.
“I just started running routs, and Coach Wasson really wanted me to keep doing it,” Gordon said. “When they came to me in the spring and said they wanted me to be both, I was delighted. It takes a special guy to do this. And I wanted to do this.”
The journey began last Friday in the season opener against Austin Westlake and continues at 8 p.m. Friday against Tulsa Union in the Southwest Showcase at AT&T Stadium in Arlington (KWRD 100.7 FM). Because of the early holiday press deadline, Gordon’s production in the opener was unavailable.
Gordon has the opportunity to etch his name as one of the better two-way players to come through Carroll. That began with Dane Johnson, who was a key figure on the 1992 and 1993 Class 3A state championship teams.
The most recent success was Sabian Holmes, who did it when Gordon was a freshman on Carroll’s 2011 state championship team. To commit to this required the physical stamina to get through a game playing about 80-90 snaps. It also required the mental toughness to endure when the body starts to wear down.
Gordon (6-0, 175) showed the knack for having good hands in 2013 when he led the secondary with four interceptions. Still, the decision to accept this move took some soul searching and serious discussions with his father. Gordon also visited with Holmes over the summer.
“I just spent the entire summer at Performance Course, ran gassers during track season and just did everything I could to be in the best physical shape to do this,” Gordon said. “The coaches were always checking on me to make sure I was OK. But I want to be good at this to help us.”
Playing two-way isn’t a phenomenon within Carroll’s program. At the middle school level, players are trained on both sides of the ball. Gordon played quarterback back then, so this added to Wasson encouraging this move. Repetitions with Agnew took an important step especially when Carroll advanced to the state 7-on-7 tournament in College Station.
Gordon’s leadership will be important to a young Carroll wide receivers corps that still has a lot of work to do. After Gordon, Parker Fentriss and Ryan McGiboney, there just aren’t a lot of knowns. Catching a couple of deep balls from Agnew wouldn’t hurt either.
“He’s a smart player,” Wasson said. “All of what he does physically is because of the way we train. Tariq comes to play mentally. But I also want this to be something where he can be good on both sides. I don’t want to drain him so that he’s not good at either. He can definitely handle this because he’s worked to get there.”