SEFFNER — To his Armwood teammates, Craig Carrington is known as 'Smiley'. But on the day Carrington signed his letter of intent to play football at Stetson, his mom, Terry, was reminded of just how far her son has come since the day that he was anything but.
Carrington, a linebacker turned fullback for the Hawks, had to sit out his junior year due to issues with his residency paperwork. A determined Carrington still showed up for practice every day, coach Sean Callahan pointed out during Wednesday's ceremony, but he couldn't play on Friday nights.
"That was the most I've ever seen him cry," Terry Carrington recalled about the suspension. "He just broke down one day and just bawled."
Fast forward more than a year to Wednesday's signing day ceremony — at which Carrington was joined by fellow Armwood signees Thomas Bartley (Alabama State), Hyriam Frederick (Alabama State) and Kyle Gibson (UCF) — and the 5-foot-11 fullback was once again living up to his namesake.
Carrington, also an accomplished student with a 4.0 grade-point average, beamed as he posed for photos with his friends and family after the ceremony. Carrington finished the 2013 season second on the team in rushing with 505 yards and six touchdowns, and turned down an offer from FAMU to attend Stetson.
And while Wednesday was a big day in Carrington's athletic career, it also aligned with another personal milestone: his 18th birthday.
"I'm an adult, and I'm going to be left on my own pretty soon," Carrington said, laughing. "I have to become a man in a snap."
Despite the fact that its a young program, Carrington was confident about his choice to attend Stetson. The decision wasn't quite as easy for Gibson.
Gibson, a 6-foot safety who finished last season with 67 tackles, had been a Vanderbilt commit, but when former Commodores coach James Franklin bolted for Penn State, Gibson reconsidered.
"With UCF, I just felt like it was the best fit for me, even after everything happened. Everything just kind of happened for a reason," Gibson said. "I definitely feel like it's a program on the rise."