It wasn’t easy being a redshirt freshman this year. Not when he was used to playing and helping his Roswell football team win. Not only win but win championships. After having a year to grow and develop mentally and physically as a redshirt freshman, when the Eastern New Mexico Greyhounds play in the spring, look for Justin Carrasco to play every down with 100% intensity like he does everything else.
Since taking to the small campus in Portales, New Mexico, Carrasco has lived a disciplined, quiet life. All he has done is dedicate himself to going to class, the weight room and football. Justin can take comfort in knowing the ‘Hounds’ offense since Roswell ran the triple option as well. What he has done in the year since he has seen the field as a high school senior is build his body and mind.
Justin has increased his bench press to 420 pounds and can lift 225 on the bench 25 times. He also can lift 345 pounds in the hang cleans and squat 550 pounds. His goal is to lift over 600 pounds his senior year. He has been timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.5 seconds.
At 5 foot 10 inches and 190 pounds, Justin is hoping his body can take the pounding as a college fullback. Right now he is in a battle with a senior for the starting fullback position. His value to the Greyhounds is his willingness to play anywhere to get on the field.
Special teams is something he looks forward to playing, as long as he has a chance to help ENMU continue to win. Justin’s ultimate goal is to play in the NFL, so he knows that he must be awesome on special teams to have a shot at making a roster one day.
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“A lot of young cats going into a college sport don’t realize that everyone was a star in high school,” Justin said. “Every day is a competition, and if you don’t view it like that, you won’t survive.”
Playing at Lovington did a lot for him. He was undersized as a 5-foot 8-inch 140-pound senior. The Wildcats won one game, and that was against Santa Teresa. Going against Roswell, Goddard and other top-notch teams only instilled a fire and hunger in him to compete against the best at the highest level.
When Justin transferred to Roswell, it lit a fuse in him to push him to be the best that he can be, not only on the field but in the weight room as well. His goal was to get better every day and grind. He knew that he had to earn his position at Roswell if he were to see the field.
In his senior season Justin’s efforts paid off. He rushed for over 1,423 yards and scored 23 TDs. He was All-State and played in the North-South all-star game where he ended up winning Most Valuable Player of that game.
His dad, Pilar Carrasco, started at tight end at ENMU in 1995-96. He was academic All-Lone Star Conference in 1995-96 and all-conference his senior year. He was selected All-West region as a tight end and named Greyhounds’ team captain his senior year.
“My dad, Pilar Carrasco has coached me most of my life,” Justin said. “Ever since I put a helmet on at 6 years old, he has prepared for this. My father wants the best for me. He played at ENMU and was all-conference in the mid-90s. He knew what it took to be at that level. I will forever be grateful for that.”
What is most appealing about Eastern is the smallness of the campus and classes. Justin loves the fact that he can talk to his professors if he has questions or needs help. The transition to college is made easier because he is rooming with his high school teammate Victor Bolanos. The two have known each other and been friends since they were little kids.
“If you don’t work hard,” Justin said, “and you’re lazy, there is no way you can survive. If you get hurt there is always someone waiting to take your place, that’s why you have to be on top of it.”
Because Justin redshirted this season, because of COVID-19, this season will not count against him. ENMU is looking to play an in-state football schedule, New Mexico State, Western New Mexico, New Mexico Highlands, and the University of New Mexico. The schedule is still being finalized. During their mini-spring game in November, head coach Kelley Lee has liked what he’s seen of Justin so far.
“My main focus is to stay healthy and to get better every day,” Justin said.
The difference between high school football and college football, according to Justin, is playing in high school is fun. While in college it is more of a job and business. Football for him is year-round.
The advice Justin would give other athletes hoping to play football at the college level is to do the right things. He says athletes should put the right things in their body, and make sure they get their grades and do well on their ACT and SAT tests. He knows that if he hadn’t lifted in high school, he would not have a football scholarship.
According to Justin, power clean and the hang clean are the best workouts a football player can do. It works the core body parts, legs and is a full-body lift. Justin feels like lifting in high school gave him an advantage over other freshmen coming into ENMU. He’s a big proponent of weight lifting.
His favorite win in high school was against Artesia at the Wool Bowl. It was the game Dylan Tucker made the winning touchdown catch with no time left on the clock. Roswell would defeat Los Lunas 42-6 to win their first Blue Trophy in 20 years.
Justin’s longterm goal is to play in the NFL. When his gridiron days are done, he would like to be a police officer. He is majoring in criminal justice.
“I believe in doing the right things in life,” Justin said. “If I do that, good things will happen. Coach Lynn prepared me for college football. The same way we practiced at Roswell is the same practice schedule we have at ENMU. I give Coach Lynn a lot of credit for getting me ready for college football.”
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.