"Hi! I'm Casey Carroll. You may remember me from such elite fighting regiments as the Army Rangers -- for four deployments! -- or from two All-America lists."
It's true: Carroll is back for Duke in 2014, one final run as a 29 year-old defensemen. (In fact, today is Carroll's birthday. Send him something nice from Edible Arrangements.) Corey McLaughlin of Lacrosse Magazine has the details:
Carroll, who served five years as an Army Ranger after last playing for the Blue Devils men's lacrosse team in 2007, has been cleared by the NCAA to return to the field this spring, Duke coach John Danowski said Tuesday.
Carroll, who would play the 2014 season at 29 years old, is pursuing a master's degree at Duke's Fuqua School of Business. He attempted to use a fifth year of athletic eligibility last year but tore the ACL in his left knee in a non-contact drill last January. He applied for the same NCAA exemption this year that he was granted ahead of last season, which allows those with time spent in the armed services to play beyond the traditional five-year calendar for student-athletes.
And that's only part of the hurdle Carroll has faced to step back on the field. Carroll's rehab, which typically requires at least six months for a torn ACL, has been slowed by the fact that he worked a time-intensive internship this summer in Charlotte, N.C. His wife also gave birth to their second child this fall.
I'm 33 years old and I couldn't imagine doing what Carroll is trying to do. What he has experienced as a human makes him an amazing story, but it's his resolve to try and play another season -- despite the problems he's having with his body -- that elevates Carroll's effort to that of the superhuman. Even if Carroll can't regain first-team All-America form, the fact that he's even trying to put himself in a position to contribute -- in any way possible -- to Duke's 2014 campaign is something that deserves praise.
Where Carroll could potentially figure into Duke's defensive situation next spring is interesting. Chris Hipps and Henry Lobb return to anchor the close defense and Luke Duprey returns as a long-stick through the box; the Devils will need to replace big contributors in Dan DiMaria, Bill Conners, and Jimmy O'Neill. There is an opportunity here for Carroll to solidify Duke's defensive posture if some of the team's young cats fail to progress adequately, but much of that is going to turn on whether Carroll can physically put himself in a position to earn a spot on the field.
Regardless, Carroll is back -- again -- for some fun.