When Nevin Elliott reported for spring football in late May, you had to do a double take if you hadn’t seen him in a while. He was a different guy; a new person. Gone was the excess poundage. He had toned up and had turned himself into a lean, mean fighting machine.
It’s a good thing, because the 215-pound senior is playing two positions that take a lot of physical pounding — fullback and defensive tackle. And, through three games, he is more than holding his own in helping Carson to a 2-1 record heading into Friday’s non-league home game (7 p.m.) against winless North Valleys.
“Diet and exercise,” said Elliott when asked how he dropped 25 pounds. “After working out here, I would go up to Reno and work out at FAST. I worked hard this summer at getting more lean. I did a lot of cross-fit type stuff. I jump roped, worked on increasing my speed. You name, I did it.”
“The biggest thing Nevin did in the off-season is get in shape,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “He got hurt at the Nevada camp last year. He’s probably one of our strongest players. The weight loss allowed his natural ability to come out. We needed him to be able to play a lot on both sides of the ball, and that meant being in great shape.”
Elliott is certainly taking on a much bigger role on offense, especially after last year’s fullback Colby Brown went down with a season-ending knee injury at the South Tahoe camp this summer. Elliott, who was to play both fullback and H-back, suddenly found himself as the full-time fullback, a spot he feels very comfortable in.
“I like it back there more than H back,” Elliott admitted earlier this week. “I’m not as shifty as some of our smaller backs. The fullback is more of a downhill runner type. I’ve never been shifty. My first year of Pop Warner, I was 6 or 7 and I had to play up two age groups because I was too heavy. I’ve always played up.
“When spring came around, Colby was working at fullback and F, and I was working at fullback and H. I knew I was going to get some time at fullback. When Colby went down, I knew I had to step up and show the coaches what I could do.”
After a slow start against Hug (9 carries, 17 yards), Elliott has come on strong in the last two weeks with 19 carries for 107 yards in a loss to Reno and an upset of McQueen. Elliott has shown that he’s a true power runner, capable of breaking tackles time after time.
“The offensive line has really stepped it up the last two weeks,” Elliott said. “They have made great improvement. A running back can’t do anything without the offensive line. If they can block it, I have to find the holes.”
And, he truly fits what Roman is looking for in a fullback.
“I’ve had to use a lot of different type of kids in that position,” Roman said. “Luke Carter was more of a slasher and was physical. Connor (Beattie) and Joey Thurman played there as a sophomore, and then Colby last year. My plan was to move Colby around a little bit. What Nevin gives you is power. If we don’t get something blocked properly up front, he can turn it into a positive play.
“The other advantage is that he’s a physical lead blocker, a force on kick-out blocks and his pass protection has been excellent.”
When he’s not running through defenders, he’s trying to stop opposing ball carriers. After just playing offense in the opener against Hug, Elliott has been pressed into double duty the past two weeks against Reno and McQueen. He has six tackles, including a key third-down stop in the red zone against the Lancers. It’s a different type of double. Usually you see running backs either at linebacker or defensive back, not down in the trenches in a three-point stance.
“It is a little weird,” Elliott said. “I just play my hardest. I have quick hands. I think it’s kind of natural. You either understand it or are able to grasp it quickly. Last year when I played defense I was at end. I moved down this year and I knew I had to be able to hold my own.”
“He’s extremely strong,” Roman said. “He had a lot of coaching at a young age. He’s our best technician. He sheds blocks very well and has a quick first step. He gets off real fast, and offensive linemen can’t handle him.”