Redshirt freshman fills in at fullback

Freshman fullback Hans Carmien laughs with teammates Saturday during the second half of the Southeast Missouri State University game at Saluki Stadium. Carmien is the youngest offensive starter for the Salukis this season.Nathan Hoefert • Daily Egyptian

Freshman fullback Hans Carmien laughs with teammates Saturday during the second half of the Southeast Missouri State University game at Saluki Stadium. Carmien is the youngest offensive starter for the Salukis this season.Nathan Hoefert • Daily Egyptian

By Tony McDaniel

Ray Agnew’s graduation left SIU with a hole on offense that has been filled by a freshman.

Redshirt Hans Carmien stepped in for the Salukis at fullback. In three games he has just 2 catches, but has already managed to find the end zone once.

Carmien came to SIU as a defensive end, but was moved to fullback after his redshirt season.

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“The opportunity for me to play fullback just kind of was there,” he said. “Coach Lennon came up to me and told me that he wanted me to play fullback.”

He said the most difficult part of making the adjustment to playing offense at the Division I level was dealing with the quickness of the game.

Former Saluki fullback Ray Agnew played in 36 games for the Salukis from 2010 to 2013. In his time with the Salukis, Agnew played well enough to receive interest from the Cleveland Browns of the NFL.

Agnew was signed as an undrafted free agent this offseason, and made the Browns as the team’s only fullback.

Carmien said he did not get to learn much from Agnew while they were Salukis since Carmien was on defense at the time, but he knew Agnew was a great player.

Carmien equaled Agnew’s career touchdown total Sept. 6 with a score against Eastern Illinois University.

“I was pretty hyped,” Carmien said. “As a redshirt freshman, to get a touchdown like that is awesome. My whole family was there; it’s an hour from where I’m from. So that was exciting for me too.”

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Carmien is one of two fullbacks on the Salukis’ roster along with senior Mika’il McCall. McCall has made most of his appearances at running back this season.

Running back coach Larry Warner said Carmien is the guy at fullback.

“Hans is a hard-nosed kid that wants to be good,” Warner said. “He comes and opens up holes for the running back. He’s doing a tremendous job catching the ball out of the back field.”

The freshman said he likes knowing that the position is his.

Carmien said the Salukis don’t practice runs with the fullback. His main role in the running game is to be a blocker. For SIU the fullback is used primarily as a blocker and a receiver.

“Hans has showed his natural ability to catch the ball,” Warner said. “Most teams, they’re scheming against our tight ends, our running backs, and our receivers and they leave the fullback unaccounted for. Hans has been doing a great to job to leak out of the backfield and catch the ball.”

Despite being used solely as a blocker and a receiver Carmien has a history of running well with the ball.

At Fisher High School Carmien rushed for 797 yards and 9 touchdowns in his senior season on his way to All-State honors. On defense Carmien totaled 174 tackles in his two seasons on Fisher’s varsity team.

A three-sport athlete, Carmien ran track and helped his basketball team to the Super Sectionals of the Illinois High School Association State Playoffs in his junior season.

Warner said Carmien’s athleticism stems from all the sports he participated in during his high school career.

“Hans is an athletic guy. He can catch the ball and run after the catch “He’s able to get in there and make adjustments on the run,” Warner said. “It’s showing that he’s a great athlete just to be able to do that.”

McCall said off the field Carmien has a great personality.

“He’s a great person, kind, concerned, caring,” he said. “Me and Hans are really cool. Best friends since we got here.”

Carmien has a chance to be a four-year starter at SIU. He said he is focused on handling his career one game at a time.

“I’ve just gotta keep doing what I’m doing,” he said. “Do what the coaches tell me. Just not look in the future, just focus on the opportunity right in front of me.”

Tony McDaniel can be reached at [email protected], @tonymcdanielDE

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