Kyle Rudy is like a little kid celebrating Christmas for the first time.
“I’m so excited for this weekend,” Rudy said Wednesday morning. “Ever since last year, I wanted to earn a starting spot whether it was offense, defense or special teams, and now I’ve done that. It feels pretty good.
“I worked really hard in the off-season. I went to the gym every day. I didn’t lift to get stronger, I lifted to get faster and quicker. I did a lot of power lifts.”
Obviously the hard work paid dividends. Rudy is slated to start at wingback and cornerback on Saturday at 1 p.m. when Carson opens its season in Pocatello, Idaho, against the Lewiston Bengals at Idaho State’s Holt Arena at 1 p.m.
The contest is part of the Rocky Mountain Rumble.
It will be Carson’s second appearance in the annual event. Carson lost to Highland, 34-0, in its first Idaho appearance.
The 5-foot-7 140-pound Rudy was in the mix on the defensive side of the ball since summer workouts started, but has been pressed into starting duty because Sherman Smith is out the next two games for violating team rules along with Chance Smith and Terin Keller. The other starting corner, Kyle Glanzmann, has a hip injury and his status is day-to-day.
Rudy saw spot duty last year on offense, carrying the ball 15 times for 89 yards and a score. He had one catch last season, a 22-yard TD reception.
“Right now, he is starting both ways,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “We do have some other players that can play there and that we need to take a look at. Tanner Kalicki can play there. We’re going into the game with four cornerbacks.
“Pound for pound, he’s one of our strongest guys. He is very strong. He is really quick; a scatback.”
Rudy said he prefers defense over offense, but also admits he’s better on the offensive side of the ball. He also knows his role as a two-way starter could be short-lived.
“I like to be able to hit people,” Rudy said. “Defense definitely gives me more opportunities to do that.”
Another thing Roman likes about Rudy is his mental toughness. Roman said he likes his football players to wrestle if they aren’t involved in another winter sport.
“I think it (wrestling) transcends to football and vice versa,” Roman said. “You get in a tough football game the kids that have wrestled usually play well.”
The biggest issue with Rudy is he sometimes can get frustrated at himself when things don’t go as expected.
Roman noticed it last year, but says Rudy has done a better job in that regard this year.
“Confidence is the biggest thing I see from last year,” Roman said. “Kyle is very hard on himself, and if something didn’t go his way he’d get down on himself. That was his M.O. He has done a better job of staying positive this year.
“I was hard on him last year, and maybe that was part of what the issue was. I found out how to communicate with him.”
Rudy feels he’s more mature about things.
“It (the behavior) started when I was in Sierra Youth Football League,” he said. “We lost every game. It was frustrating. At that age, I got to the point where I didn’t care.
“I feel we have the possibility to be a very good team. You don’t get second chances, and you have to learn from the mistakes and missed opportunities.”
And what Rudy has learned is if you keep plugging away and don’t dwell on the past, good things can happen.