By Kevin Carroll | ESPN Staff WriterAs a freshman at Clemson, Kevin Carroll was a bit of a football junkie.
So when the Tigers hosted the national title game on Dec. 3, 2013, the 18-year-old was already hooked.
Carroll, a native of Columbus, Ohio, would be the first Clemson player to make his debut.
He finished with 11 tackles, a sack and an interception.
The Clemson defense also had a great game, forcing seven turnovers, but Carroll wasn’t impressed with the Tigers’ play.
“I didn’t see that much going on,” Carroll said.
“That game really showed me how much of an impact Clemson can have.
They’ve got a lot of young guys that have played, but that was kind of a big step for me to be a part of.”
That season, Carroll made his first start at cornerback.
After being signed by the Bengals, Carroll quickly became a starter, recording 17 tackles and 1.5 sacks that season.
He was a member of the AFC South divisional playoff team, and he earned a spot on the All-Defensive team for the second straight year.
“For a while, I was kind to myself,” Carroll recalled.
“When I got drafted, I thought I could play wherever.
I knew that I could just play whatever position, whatever position they wanted me to play.
And I think it’s a huge blessing for me that I was able to come here and be here and make my first start, and to be able to play with a great group of guys.
I’m excited to be here.”
The following season, as a junior, Carroll had a breakout season with 12 tackles and a team-high four interceptions.
He also started all 16 games, and was named to the AP All-American team.
Carroll has continued to develop his game throughout his career, starting all 16 of his collegiate games as a senior, and recording his first career interception.
As a result, he’s considered one of the best cornerbacks in the game, a fact that’s been proven on the field.
He’s also proven himself to be the most mature of the young cornerbacks at Clemson.
“It’s kind of hard to put into words, but the last two years of my college career, it’s been an eye opener to see how much I’ve matured,” Carroll explained.
“And I think that’s a positive thing.
You’re a human being and you have to look at what you’re capable of. “
I think that is an eye test for anybody.
You’re a human being and you have to look at what you’re capable of.
You can’t have it all.”
In his first year as a full-time starter at cornerback, Carroll recorded a career-high 11 tackles and added one pass breakup.
He earned second-team All-ACC recognition, the first corner to earn that honor since Kevin King in 2012.
And the Tigers ranked fourth nationally in total defense (309.2 yards per game), third in total offense (374.9 yards per contest) and fifth in scoring defense (14.5 points per game).
Carroll made the All the ACC second team in 2014, and had 10 starts.
“Just the way he handles himself off the field, and just the way that he works in practice, I think he has a very high ceiling to go forward,” defensive coordinator John Chavis said.
Carrier said he doesn’t get to enjoy that many opportunities as a true freshman, so it’s nice to be around those who do.
“My family and friends and I really appreciate everything that Coach Chavis has done for me,” Carroll added.
“He’s really taken care of me.
Carroll is entering his second season with the Bengals. “
Just being around those guys is always the highlight of my day.”
Carroll is entering his second season with the Bengals.
He joins the Bengals’ secondary in 2016, joining the former All-Pro in Josh Shaw.
Carroll also spent the majority of last season with Cincinnati, playing in seven games and recording a total of four tackles.
He appeared in all 12 games for the Bengals in 2015, recording a career high-tying nine tackles.