David Carlen's nomination as an Old Spice Red Zone Player of the Year has Longhorn football coach Josh Anderson spewing superlatives about his star middle linebacker and tight end.
"He is a very determined young man in everything he does," the coach said. "David has such an unbelievable strength from within himself and he doesn't let things get in the way of his goals."
Carlen is the first Payson High School football player to be nominated for the award that has been given out the past seven years to the top 50 football players from around the country.
"The program honors athletes who are able to elevate their play and step up when the heat is really on," Old Spice spokesman Bob Temple said.
"These athletes embody leadership, performance and desire, and serve as examples to their teammates on and off the field."
It is Carlen's "off-the-field" accomplishments that has also impressed Anderson.
"Many freshmen look up to David because they see how hard he works," he said. "He is an excellent role model for many and they know they can trust him to get things done well."
The coach also lauds Carlen has a teenager who has battled through personal adversity.
"David has a background where many kids in our society would feel sorry for themselves and be mad at the world," he said.
"But, he hasn't let those things get in his way."
In addition to Carlen being nominated for the national award, he was an All-East Region Defensive first team member, First Team 3A All-State, second team on the all-Arizona Republic team, the Longhorns most valuable defensive player and maintains a 3.00-plus GPA.
Carlen, a junior, has also built a reputation during his tenure at PHS as one of the school's most dedicated athletes in the weight room.
"He has put on and added so much strength and speed from all the hard work in the off-season," Anderson said.
During the past football season, the 5-foot, 11-inch 190-pound Carlen anchored defensive coordinator Kenny Hayes's 43 defense.
He finished the season with 149 tackles, 74 of which were unassisted. His average of 12.4 tackles per game was among the region's best marks. He also had four sacks for 25 yards in losses. He had one interception, which he returned for 15 yards.
During the season, he showcased skills that allowed him to make tackles from sideline to sideline and drop into pass coverage when called upon.
Offensively, he saw considerable playing time at tight end, mostly as a blocker. He did however have four pass receptions for 106 yards.
At the conclusion of the gridiron campaign, Carlen turned out for basketball and now plays for both the junior varsity and varsity.
Hayes, also the head boys basketball coach, praises Carlen has a rapidly improving player who uses his strength and determination to mix it up under the boards.
"That's what I really like about him," Hayes said.
If Carlen is selected one of the 50 Red Zone Players of the year, he would be honored in a full-page feature in USA Today in February.