User ID: Password:

January 17, 2012

Career in journalism not a long shot for Tech long snapper

By: Jimmy Robertson

From radio to writing to TV, Collin Carroll isn’t limiting himself when it comes to his future following football

He swore he set his alarm clock, that little contraption next to his bed that wakes him each morning at a designated time. He knew about the appointment, a rare opportunity to be interviewed. He then admitted that maybe he hit the snooze button, that feature that allows for a few extra minutes of sleep before the alarm clock starts buzzing again.

Then, he admitted maybe he hit it a second time. Maybe a third. Finally, it came out – the admission that maybe he accidentally cut off the alarm.

Collin Carroll woke up at noon on this particular day, missing his morning appointment. He called and apologized, providing a plausible explanation. He had spent the previous evening studying for the GRE (Graduate Record Exam), a prerequisite for admission into graduate school.

Unlike most seniors in their final semester at college, Carroll had a lot going on in his life. He wrote columns for the student newspaper; interviewed teammates and athletes in other sports for video packages that aired on the athletics department’s web site (; served as the play-by-play announcer for select wrestling and volleyball matches aired over; produced a weekly webcast for the Pamplin Marketing Department and served as the marketing and promotions master of ceremonies during basketball games. That doesn’t even take into account the amount of time he put into lifting weights and honing his craft as Tech’s long snapper.

But as one quickly finds out, Carroll is more than your average football player. Given his array of interests, he is quite simply the program’s Renaissance man.

Collin Carroll seems to be destined for a future in front of a crowd. He’s as comfortable with a microphone in his hand as he is with a football. TV cameras fail to unnerve him. He acts the same in front of large audiences as he does with a few of the guys lounging around watching Sunday afternoon movies at his apartment.

That comfort comes because he knows nothing else. After all, he grew up in a household of nine. That’s not a typo.

Quiet has been extinct for a long time in the Hopkins, Minn., home of Jay and Kari Carroll, who have been blessed with five boys and two girls. Everyone shares a bedroom, with Collin – the oldest – and one of his brothers sharing a room, then three other brothers co-existing in one and the two girls sharing another one. Dinner at the Carroll household is like wing night at BW3’s, a little loud and a little wild. Constant battles emerge for access to the bathrooms and to the televisions.

In such a setting, it would be easy to get lost, just overwhelmed by numbers. So to get yourself noticed, you needed to do something different to set yourself apart from the pack. The biggest brother found this out quickly.

“In a big family, it can be easy to get lost unless you develop a personality,” Carroll said. “My dad is a very outgoing guy and personable, and he always taught us to look people in the eye and shake their hands. He always teased us and made fun of us, so we built up some thick skin. All my siblings are outgoing and social and congenial, and a lot of that has to do with being in a big family. You’ve got to develop a personality to survive.”

Jay Carroll certainly encouraged that. He often makes his kids act out funny little skits on a makeshift stage, with Chris Farley routines being commonplace. The shows serve to break the monotony of those brutal Minnesota winters.

Jay never misses an opportunity to play with the kids, often after coming home from work. He serves as the family breadwinner, running his own marketing agency, but Collin quickly tells you that his mom does all the real work. Kari Carroll, a stay-at-home mom, is home organizer, chauffeur, chef, maid, counselor, and the many other duties applicable to such domestic engineers.

“I don’t know how she has maintained the pace that she has over the last 22 years,” Collin said. “But she’s so unselfish, and that’s taught us a lot about giving to others and sacrificing for others. I’m thankful for her example of what it looks like to be unselfish and not get any glory.”

His dad, though, got him involved with football. Jay played tight end at the University of Minnesota and then later in the NFL for Tampa Bay and Minnesota. He served as his sons’ coach throughout their lives, teaching them to play the game with intensity and aggressiveness.

Collin, a center for nearly all of his youth, started long snapping in the seventh grade. By his sophomore year at Edina High, he realized it might be his ticket to a college scholarship.

“I had no idea what I was doing,” he said of his first ventures into long snapping. “I played center, so it was a natural transition, but I was awful. I kept working at it, and in 10th grade, I really started working on it.

“I knew I wasn’t the most athletic kid, so I had to find some niche to use as a ticket to play college football. But no one really taught me how. I just messed with it and figured out what worked and what didn’t.”

Before his senior year, he and his father sent out videotapes of him snapping to more than 70 schools. Only two got back to him – Virginia Tech and Eastern Michigan. Tech head coach Frank Beamer encouraged him to take an official visit to Blacksburg and later offered him a scholarship.

Carroll accepted.

“It was the easiest decision I’ve made in my life,” he said.

Carroll quickly became one of the most recognizable athletes at Tech, though not necessarily because of anything done on the field. After all, long snappers only get noticed when things go awry, and aside from two blips on a soggy day against Miami a couple of years ago, he was perfect.

Actually, he has become recognized among Hokie Nation for his willingness to share his faith – something that he feels has provided other opportunities.

Carroll knew God wanted him to come to Tech following his official visit. Growing up in a Christian home, he attended church every Sunday and led a Bible study for middle school students, but he worried about the temptations that one faces on official visits.

However, his host, Scott King, invited him to a worship concert that Saturday evening. With that invitation, God had provided Carroll with direction on his college choice.

“I just feel like God had ordained this,” Carroll said.

Not long after Carroll and his classmates arrived at Tech, Beamer decided to bring in Johnny Shelton as the team’s chaplain. Over the course of time, Shelton got the players involved in various community outreach events, and he quickly found the outgoing Carroll a willing participant to hop on any stage and share his faith.

The more Carroll spoke on campus, at churches and at various other events, the more he loved it. He has spoken to people of all ages and races, all in an attempt to change their eternal destination.

“He [God] wanted me to come here, not to play football or win ACC championships or bowl games or to get rings or notoriety, but to make an impact in people’s lives,” Carroll said. “I hope that I’ve been able to, in some small way, be an example of Christ to my teammates and to this campus. That’s so much more fulfilling than any accomplishment on the field.”

Carroll has contemplated going into the ministry. But God opened some doors in the journalism field during the fall semester, and now Carroll wonders about his future.

This past fall, Carroll got involved in the triumvirate of journalism – writing, radio and TV. He wrote a column for the school newspaper that he called “Snap Judgment” in which he relayed stories about the football team. He worked with Bill Roth, the “Voice of the Hokies,” and Andrew Allegretta, the voice of the women’s basketball team and the baseball team, and they helped him with broadcasts of volleyball and wrestling matches over He also worked with the athletics department video office to put together video packages on various football-related subjects for, which gave him experience shooting and editing video.

In addition, he worked an internship for the Pamplin folks, producing a webcast to promote Tech’s marketing program, and he also landed a gig with the marketing folks in the athletics department as the promotions MC during basketball games. His enthusiasm gets fans excited not only about in-game promotions, but also about the game itself.

And that’s just a few of the projects he involved himself in this past fall.

“It wasn’t until I came to college and Johnny Shelton asked me to go to these youth ministry events and speaking that I realized, ‘Wow, this is fun,’” Carroll said. “I really enjoyed it. I discovered, through that, God had given me some gifts that would lend themselves to a career in journalism.”

Of particular note: Carroll is actually very good at his assorted tasks, particularly “Snap Judgment.” With that column, he refuses to become just a football team cheerleader.

Sure, Carroll dives into the humorous, as was the case with his story on Blake DeChristopher’s beard and with a piece on the team’s weekly gorge-fest at the Farmhouse Restaurant. But he also delves into serious topics, such as a story on the numerous players on the team who have children, and one on why he feels paying student-athletes would be a huge mistake.

Such types of stories often open the door for criticism. But they also open the door for respect.

“I wanted to dive into some topics that have meaning,” he said.

For sure, his fall semester was one of learning, even though he only took one class – the internship in Pamplin – to wrap up his degree in marketing management. His fall semester was also one of fun.

“I wanted to learn and gain experience from people I respect and trust,” he said. “I want to figure out if this is something I want to do, and this semester has been a blast.”

Of course, with such fun comes a price. Once thought to be called into the ministry, Carroll now finds himself at sort of a career crossroads. Does he go into the ministry? Or does he pursue a profession in journalism? Or perhaps graduate school is an option. He likes the thought of attending Northwestern, Syracuse or Columbia, but the cost of tuition dampens those thoughts.

He plans on returning to Minnesota next summer to be with his family and discuss things with them. He also wants to use that time to listen to God to find out His plans for Carroll.

He knows this – he’ll use his platform, whatever it is and wherever it is, to do everything possible to praise the Lord. Everything else remains in His hands.

“You’ll either see me preaching on Sundays or calling games on Sunday,” Carroll said, with a laugh. “Who knows?”

Getting to know Collin Carroll

Favorite hobby: Writing. Writing is a passion of mine, but I also love karaoke. I’m not the guy who gets up there and sings country songs. I’m more into disco. My favorite song is “Love Shack.” I love doing Billy Joel, Journey and some others, too.

Most embarrassing moment on the field: “Well, there’s quite a menu to choose from. It had to be at Miami last year. Miami has not been a good rivalry for me. I had the two bad snaps in 2009, and then last year, I was running down the field and I felt the whistle had blown, but maybe it didn’t. One of their starting defensive ends looped around and absolutely derailed me. I think I hit the ground harder than he hit me. I had a bad bruise on my butt and my back for the rest of the year.

Favorite player: Danny Coale. The specialists make fun of me and say I have a man-crush on Danny, which may or may not be true. What I love about him is that he works harder than anyone on the team. He’s an extremely humble guy. He’s a great leader, by example and vocally.

In 10 years, you’ll be doing … : I don’t know. I can tell you I’ll be in ministry, making disciples. Maybe not full time, but that will be my goal whatever I’m doing. That’s all I know for sure. Hopefully, I’ll be grooming some long snappers of my own. I don’t want to have to pay for college, so I’ll be trying my best to help them. The trick will be finding a girl who can offset my un-athletic genes.

Person you’d most like to interview: Tim Tebow, hands down. I look up to him and respect him a lot. People hate him because he’s standing for something. Of all the attitudes on a football field during a game, people are most concerned and disturbed and offended by the guy taking a knee to thank God. Something is wrong there.

I think people look at him and think he’s this goody two shoes and doesn’t struggle with anything. I’d like to uncover the real Tim Tebow. I know that he’s a human and he struggles. I think it’d be pretty cool, as a believer, to be able to sympathize with Tebow. I think it’d be interesting to get to know him a little better and for people to realize he’s not this robot that people make him out to be. I’d just like to get to know him better.