Franklin College coach Mike Leonard certainly isn’t surprised that senior offensive lineman Austin Carlton has been placed on the watch list for the Allstate Insurance Co. American Football Coaches Association’s Good Works Team.

The list of 197 players includes those who exemplify a superior commitment to community service and volunteerism.

At 6-foot-2 and 285 pounds, Carlton looks imposing but is a gentle man.

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“He’s a caring soul that is just a great teammate and a great friend,” Leonard said. “We’re a better team and better school for having him with us.”

The final roster of 22 Good Works award recipients will be announced in September. The team will feature 11 players from the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and 11 players from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, III and NAIA. Franklin College is a Division III program.

Carlton, a biology major, mentors students on the campus and takes part in charity events.

“Every year the football team does Samaritan’s Feet, an organization dedicated getting children shoes that can’t afford them,” Carlton said. “This past year we went to a school in Indianapolis and played with the kids all day, and we got them shoes. They got to pick the shoes out.

“That was a really rewarding experience.”

Another important activity for Carlton is the Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics.

“It used to be just a football event, but we didn’t want to limit it to just the football team,” Carlton said.

So they asked other Franklin teams to participate. For the next one, Carlton said, organizers hope to get even more participants and perhaps some faculty and staff as well.

“I hope to continue supporting those organizations in the future,” Carlton said.

Leonard said Carlton is able to balance academic work, a job to help pay for college and demands of being a football player with weight training and keeping in shape year-round.

“Not only does he balance it, but he does it all extremely well,” Leonard said. “He’s the model for every guy that I’ll ever recruit — don’t tell me you can’t do well in school or make some money to help pay for school and be a good football player.

“He’s the role model.”

Carlton, who earned Capital One Academic All-American honors with a 3.88 grade-point average in biology, is in the process of applying for medical school.

“I’d like to go into pediatrics,” Carlton said. “I’ve always liked working with kids. They’re energetic, and they keep things fun. Just being able to dedicate my life to helping people, especially kids, that’s always been my lifetime goal.”

Carlton, a 2012 Evansville Reitz High School graduate, has been a right guard since he was a freshman, moving from a backup to a starter as a sophomore. Carlton earned first-team All-North Region accolades by D3football.com and first-team All-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference honors as a junior and senior.

The Grizzlies, who open the season against visiting Illinois Wesleyan on Sept. 5, are ranked No. 23 in the preseason Lindy’s Sports and The Sporting News polls and received votes in the D3football.com preseason poll. Franklin has won five consecutive HCAC titles.

“One thing we like to stress to our team is the past is the past,” Carlton said. “It’s a new season and a new team. Starting Day One at camp this team hasn’t completed anything. We have to have high goals. We want to be conference champs, and we want to make it to the playoffs and eventually become national champions. That’s our mindset going into camp every season.”

Carlton said the offense should be solid with four offensive line starters returning, along with strong depth and experience in the receiving crew.

“We return a couple of good running backs,” Carlton said. “The two spots we really have to fill is quarterback and left tackle on the offensive side of the ball.”

The Carlton File

Name: Austin Carlton

College: Franklin

Position: Offensive lineman

Size: 6-foot-2, 285 pounds

High school: Earned 2010 and 2011 Downtown Quarterback Club All-City team honors at Evansville Reitz. Was IFCA junior all-state in 2010 and first-team IFCA all-state as a senior in 2011. Helped lead team to Class 4A state title game in 2009.

Favorite class: Animal physiology

Favorite way to relax: “I like to work out. If I’m not doing that, I like watch to movies and go on hikes.”

Favorite vacation spot: “I always like going to the upper peninsula of Michigan. I used to live in Michigan, so I spent a lot of times up there in the summer.”

Favorite movie: “The Patriot”

Favorite TV show: “Smallville”

Author photo
Mark Ambrogi is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.