Joey Thurman got his feet wet as a sophomore last year, and that experience has helped him grow immensely into his first season as a full-time starter.
Thurman has done it all for the Senators this year. He's the team's second-leading rusher with 138 yards and three scores, he leads the team with 12 catches for 226 yards and two scores, and he's become the starter at free safety with a recent injury to Gehrig Tucker.
The Carson junior scored twice against North Valleys last week, and he'll be looking to have another big game tonight when the Senators host state runner-up Reed at 7 in their annual homecoming game.
"Joe is doing a great job," Carson coach Blair Roman. "Last week was probably a breakout game for him. He took a couple of passes the distance. He's a versatile back, probably one of the best all-around players on the team."
Those are certainly nice words to hear from your coach. Thurman, however, said he needs to be better.
"'I'm doing pretty good," Thurman said. "There is always room for improvement. I feel there is more to accomplish before I can be satisfied."
There is always more to accomplish, especially when you follow in the footsteps of the legendary Dylan Sawyers, who at times carried the Senators on his back the past three years. Thurman plays the same position, and no doubt he feels he has to put up some big numbers.
"I feel there was a lot of pressure on me," Thurman said. "I need to be better, but then again I'm only a junior. I feel like I'm lacking vision, and I'm not running hard enough."
In simple terms, Thurman believes he's not recognizing the openings quick enough, which means that he's not getting through the holes and to the second level of the defense fast enough.
Sawyers had great vision which you have to have as a running back, and his ability to see and read blocks were eye opening. Thurman has good quickness, and with time he'll get the rest of it.
"They are his expectations," Roman said. "He wants to be a great player. I don't coach that way (bringing up past players). The only thing is Joey Thurman just needs to be Joey Thurman and he's going to be just fine. He just needs more reps."
Thurman may be shortchanging himself when you consider last week's game against North Valleys where he caught five passes for 142 yards and two scores. The first was a 63-yard screen pass and the second came on a 50-yard shovel pass. He showed an extra gear as he weaved in and out of traffic in the open field to reach the end zone.
"I didn't do much in the running game, but I had a good receiving game," Thurman said. "Getting to the end zone made me feel great."
The Senators didn't need Thurman on the ground last week, because Colby Brown had a monster game with 202 yard rushing, a career best for him.
"It's very rare in this offense that a back gets the ball 25 times (or more)," Roman said. "Even Dylan didn't get more than 25 carries that often."
Thurman is confident his best games are ahead. He would love nothing better to put a good receiving and rushing game together.
What maybe has pleased Roman the most is the way Thurman has stepped into the starting free safety spot.
Thurman has collected nine tackles in two games, and only has been beaten once, that coming last week against North Valleys in a 40-27 win. He also forced a fumble with a textbook strip job on the second play of the game which led to Carson's first touchdown.
Expect to see Thurman get less offensive snaps in the coming weeks. If he comes out, it will more than likely be on offense, according to Roman.
"We can put Andrew (Gutierrez) there, and we could even put Matt Nolan there," Roman said. "We have some options."
Thurman said he loves playing free safety.
"I like seeing the ball in the air," Thurman said. "Playing free safety makes playing defense fun. I enjoy it."