Former Ironton player keeps dream alive

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2008

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Usually a phone call in the middle of the night is either a wrong number or bad news.

But an early morning phone call is still ringing in the ear of Jesse Carmon as he completed his first regular season with the Huntington Heroes of the American Indoor Football Association.

About five weeks into the season the former Ironton offensive lineman got a 2 a.m. wakeup call from Heroes and River Cities Crash coach Jason Hunter.

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“I was playing for the Crash and Jason Hunter gave me a call at 2 a.m. and asked me if I could be (at a tryout) at 10 o’clock in the morning,” said Carmon.

The 6-foot-4, 285-pound Carmon said the Heroes were in dire need of a center, a position he had never played throughout his career.

“It’s been rough, but it seems every game I’ve been getting better,” said Carmon.

“My first game I was against some guy from Fayetteville and he kicked my butt. But by the end of the game I was doing OK,” said Carmon.

“When we played them down there, they took him out after the first three series.”

Despite being an all-conference selection as a sophomore, Carmon left West Virginia Tech after last season and a second straight 1-10 record.

He began taking classes at Ashland (Ky.) Community College and was ready to put football in his past.

But then came the call.

“It’s a lot faster. When I played at Tech, we were NAIA and we played teams like Georgetown and they had D-1 caliber players. Their players were pretty good,” said Carmon.

“But I’m getting better. If you don’t perform in one game, you could be gone. I’ve been lucky. I’ve picked it up each week. The coaches said I’ve done a good job of learning.”

Playing for the Heroes had rejuvenated Carmon’s desire to play at a higher level. But he admits he’s a long way from being the player he needs to be.

“I’m only 20 years old. These guys are 25 and 30 years old. They have more experience on me. They know how to attack your snap hand,” said Carmon.

“I started off at semi-pro for fun. I didn’t want to give up football just yet. I felt like I was burned out when I first came home from college, but now I’m back at it.”

Switching to center has made Carmon learn new techniques. Carmon said he must position himself to stay low and shoot his hands differently.

“No one can jump in and play center at an all-star level right off the bat,” said Carmon. “The coaches think I can move up to AFL-2 in a few years.”

For now, Carmon just plans to work on his criminal justice degree and play football on the side.

“It’s been fun. I’m still not in the best shape. When it’s over, I’ll start training harder and get my strength back up. You only live once, so I’m going to give (arena football) a try,” said Carmon.