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Carroll excited about coaching opportunity with Bulldogs
Trumain Carroll called it the “longest drive” he has ever embarked upon.
The Houston native had just completed a grueling road trek through seven states, 1,035 miles and 17 hours from Kansas City, Kan., to Orangeburg in a loaded U-Haul truck which hauled his car on a trailer. Helping Carroll pass the time cruising through the southern states was his father, Kenneth, a former offensive lineman for Texas Southern.
The breathtaking view along Interstate 40 through the Great Smoky Mountains provided a scenic moment along the long ride for the former Oklahoma State linebacker and defensive end.
“That was about the most beautiful sites that I had ever seen at least on a drive before in my life,” Carroll said. “I was like ‘Wow! The beauty of the East Coast!’”
Upon reaching the final destination Tuesday, Carroll eagerly headed to South Carolina State University to meet with head football coach Oliver “Buddy” Pough. Awaiting Carroll was an opportunity which compelled him to leave the familiar surroundings of the Midwest and his position as director of strength and conditioning at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and follow his dream of serving in a similar role at a university with a football program.
At S.C. State, Carroll will look to fulfill his personal goal in replacing Torre Becton as the school’s new strength and conditioning coach.
“He was kind of a mentor of mine,” said Carroll about Becton. “He coached me while I was at Oklahoma State. We kept in contact over the years and he’s always been a guy I’ve been able to pick up the phone and call whenever I had a question on anything. He accepted the position at (the University of) Washington (as an assistant strength and conditioning coach) and kind of mentioned the position to me. I kind of put my best foot forward and ended up being a successful candidate.”
The connection with Becton, dating back to the 2002 and 2003 seasons at Oklahoma State, and Pough looking to maintain the continuity established by predecessor and Becton mentor John Williams proved favorable in Carroll’s interview. Upon arriving in Orangeburg, Carroll found plenty to like from his boss to the program’s run of success to the surrounding city.
“Just working for a guy like (Coach Pough), just a stand-up guy who has roots in South Carolina,” Carroll said. “A man who’s been here going on his 10th season who’s had success with the last three years being conference champs. What’s not to like about that? You’re going into a “win-win” situation. You get to go to a place where you’re going to compete for championships and work with a great caliber and good caliber guys. It’s a “win-win” situation.”
Carroll arrives just in time for the Summer II session. The “Lift-A-Bulldog” fund-raising effort is designed to keep the Bulldogs in Orangeburg to attend classes and maintain their conditioning during workouts under Carroll’s watch.
Carroll plans to implement Becton’s summer conditioning problem. Along with maintaining strength and team speed, Carroll hopes to emphasize injury prevention, flexibility and heat acclimation.
“There are going to be tough days,” he said. “When we go down to Florida for Bethune-Cookman this year (Sept. 10) and play a game at 4 o’clock in the afternoon … it’s going to be real hot for that game, so we’ve got to have guys ready for that and I’ve got to be ready for that as well. So we’ll be going through the acclimation together.”
When asked about his approach, Carroll believes his personality and passion are his biggest strengths for the job.
“I just put my heart and soul into anything that I do,” he said. “I guess one of my mentors that was my defensive line coach back at Oklahoma State who’s now with the Minnesota Vikings. His name is Karl Dunbar. He always told us to ‘sign our works’ and anything we put our name in, anything we took part in, make sure you ‘sign your work.’ And that’s what I try to do with anything that I have anything to do with, I try to sign my work and just try to put my personal touch on it.”
This is Carroll’s first venture outside his native Midwest, where he grew up following Southwestern Athletic Conference football. While S.C. State may not have the resources or wealthy benefactors like his alma mater does, Carroll said working in a similar situation at UMKC has prepared him for making in his words “a dollar out of 15 cents.”
The same is true when it comes to handling “Orangeburg Heat.”
“I’m originally from Houston, Texas so I’m used to the heat and the humidity, so it shouldn’t be too big of an adjustment,” he said. “I just have to tap into my roots back when I was 18 years old.”
Carroll’s hiring has already earned a stamp of approval from returning senior safety Dominique Ellis.
“He was highly-recommended by Coach Becton and if Coach Becton signed off on him, we signed off on him because Coach Becton definitely knew what he was talking about,” Ellis said. “I’m sure he’s going to do a great job for us.”
By Thomas Grant Jr., The Times and Democrat