While students are enjoying summer break, Braden Carnes is working on the practice field and in the weight room for his next chapter.
Carnes recently completed his senior year at Greenback School after transferring from Maryville High School and is beginning the transition into his freshman season at the University of Louisville. After a drawn-out recruitment, Carnes committed to the Cardinals on March 10 as a walk-on quarterback.
He has spent the last four months preparing for Division 1 football.
“It’s coming quick, and as far as staying in shape, I’m doing as much as I can — running a ton, trying to get in the best shape of my life,” Carnes said. “I’m throwing a whole lot, meeting up with guys and letting them run around and throwing to them. As far as the mental aspect goes, I’ve sat down with coach (Greg) Ryan a couple of times and he’s tried to teach me different defenses I’m going to see once I get to Louisville.”
One major adjustment has been keeping in touch with UL coaches and players online.
Learning UL head coach Scott Satterfield’s offense through Zoom has proven a challenge. The Cardinals finished 8-5 last season and ranked 24th overall in the nation in total offense.
“As far as learning the offense, I’ve been having Zoom calls through quarantine and through the past couple of months once or twice a week with a couple of the coaches up there,” Carnes said. “I’m just learning the basics and just trying to get a basis of the offense. It’s a lot of the same stuff but just different terminology. That’s been the hardest thing I’ve had to pick up on, and it’s not necessarily it’s something I’ve never done in the past or being taught or seen, it’s just the way they word stuff and communicate different plays to each other. That’s a little bit different.”
Carnes met with Greenback head football coach Greg Ryan for tips and advice.
“Braden and I talk two or three times a week at least, and we’ve met a few times in quarterback coach-type meetings to go over some stuff, some different terminology and different styles of defenses that he’s going to see at Louisville,” Ryan said. “I don’t know, but just from coaching college football he wanted to what were some different things about coverages and some responsibilities. I got on the board and taught him a little bit more than what you actually have to know to play high school quarterback. That was really good.”
Carnes was tasked with replacing two-time All-State and Mr. Football quarterback Bryce Hanley last season and performed above expectations, leading the Cherokees to their fourth Class 1A title game appearance in five years.
He completed 196 passes for 4,141 yards, 52 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He set several school and Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association records in his one year as a Cherokee, becoming only the second quarterback in TSSAA history to throw for more than 50 touchdowns in a season.
Carnes was also an effective runner, rushing 70 times for 304 yards and five touchdowns en route to being named the Region 2-1A Offensive Player of the Year. In addition, he was named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Class 1A All-State first team and the All-County team.
“Braden not only has played fantastic for us at quarterback, but his whole family moving into the community, they’re all a huge impact and he comes from a really great family,” Ryan said. “He’s one of these types of guys that wanted to come to Greenback and work to get better. Even though he transferred from Maryville, there was still some development he needed to make at the quarterback position, and he and I worked hard together. By mid-season, he got in really good form.”
Carnes has since transformed his body in order to adapt to the ACC level.
“What they’ve told me is, ‘Yeah, lifting weights is good, but they are going to be in better running shape and be benching a certain number or squatting,’ so I’ve really been focusing on my speed and trying to get faster,” he said. “I’m running a bunch of hills and stuff like that, so I’m definitely getting faster. Working out when I can has been kind of tough with all the gyms and stuff closing down the past couple of months, but I’ve been doing it when I can and working hard. I’m ready to go up there and compete and show them I’m ready to play.”
He hopes to make an early impact for the Cardinals as he reports for camp on July 26.
“I would say first and foremost the biggest thing would be just to get a complete grasp and control of the offense and know what the plays should be,” Carnes said. “I think that’s the biggest thing, and that’s something Coach Ryan said is that you can only analyze a defense so much before you have to turn around and change the play on the offense. That’s really what he’s told me is to focus and learn as much as I can. Really not to go away from anything and stick to the fundamentals and just kind of craft my game the best that I can.”