Most athletes who get football scholarships have been playing the sport since they were born.
Not Carl Hulick, the 6-foot-3, 285-pound offensive line commit out of Anaheim, Calif. (Esperanza), who has only been a football player for four years.
As a little kid, Hulick was too big to play Pop Warner. He said that due to the weight limit, when he was in fourth grade, he'd have to play with seventh or eighth graders and he didn't want to do that.
So he rode mountain bikes, wrestled and played some baseball and water polo, but once he hit high school, he was ready for some football.
"I basically spent my childhood waiting and waiting to play football," Hulick said. "Then I remember my freshman year when I got my pads, I put them on at home and came out and remember saying, ‘Mom…I'm going to kill somebody.' I was literally banging my head against a wall on the side of our house I was so excited. I just love football so much."
Hulick said that in middle school when he played water polo, quite the popular sport in California, his coach told him that if he stuck with it, he could be an All-America.
"I told him thanks and joined the football team my freshman year," Hulick said, laughing.
Now he's in his senior season and Esperanza is about to play in the first round of the playoffs this weekend against El Torro, a team that Hulick says is the biggest roadblock of the post-season.
"If we can beat them, we'll have a huge shot to go all the way," he said. "We're an offensive powerhouse, averaging like 36 points per game. Our defense struggles a little bit, but we're peaking really nicely going into the post-season."
Esperanza is 7-3 right now, a lot better than their 3-7 record last season. Hulick said the team was plagued with a bunch of injuries in 2010, including to the starting quarterback.
He said that the offense averages 275 yards per game in the pistol offense. Since he's played football, the team has run the triple option, but the coaches tweaked it this season.
"It was a little rough, but I picked it up real quick," Hulick said. "It's more fun actually because you stick on guys and bury them and don't get called for anything because it's all in the play."
Hulick, who can play center or guard, is excited to play in SMU's Run and Shoot system because he feels comfortable in a two-point stance.
"It will be an interesting challenge and allow me to use my athleticism," he said.
Hulick's gut was always that he'd play football at the next level. His parents were athletes – dad was a wrestler and got beat out by Bruce Bumgardner in the Olympic Trials and mom played tennis and ran cross-country – so it was in his blood.
But he never could have predicted how he would have been recruited.
During the 2011 B2G Elite Football Experience this summer, Hulick won offensive line MVP honors over some of the state's best players. Courtney Morgan, the camp's offensive line coach, was very impressed with Hulick and called up SMU offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator, Adrian Klemm.
"I was new to the camp scene because my high school coach told me that if I was good, a school would find me," Hulick said. "I only had a few letters, nothing with meaning, so I talked to Courtney after camp and he said he'd help me out.
"We talked on the Sunday after the camp and that Monday, he called me and told me to call coach Klemm at SMU. I did and he offered me a scholarship."
Hulick took an unofficial visit to SMU in August and just fell in love with the place.
"SMU is such a cool school and a cool atmosphere. There's nowhere else I'd rather be," Hulick said. "I've seen other campuses, been to other practices and there's nowhere like it."
Depending on how Esperanza does in the playoffs, Hulick is scheduled to take an official visit at the beginning of December.
Hulick has some family and friends who live in Texas ("So I've got my country roots," he says) and always wanted to play football in the state.
Another Texas attraction? The TV show Friday Night Lights.
"I love that show and wanted to go play football in Texas," he said. "It's one of those things you say, but don't think you'll get the opportunity to do. And then I get an offer from SMU and it's just like, wow."
Hulick is looking forward to being a part of a program that's on the rise rather than one that's already nationally acclaimed.
"I can't wait to be part of a team that will definitely be turning heads the next few years," he said.
Hulick is so anxious and excited about becoming a Mustang that he's already asked Klemm for the pre-season workout packet even though he can't have it until after signing day.
But he did order a SMU sweatshirt that recently came in the mail that he's been wearing to school all week.
"This is my dream. I'm in my senior season, been playing for four years and every time I put on my helmet, I get excited," Hulick said. "I remember waiting it out [before high school] and now I've been here four years and am going to SMU to play. It's just unbelievable and I couldn't be more excited."
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