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By DAVE HINTON
Rantoul Press editor
FISHER — Hans Carmien loves playing football, and he loves playing linebacker best of all.
It’s understandable then why his favorite player is Dick Butkus.
After a stellar career at Fisher High School, Carmien will continue his playing days at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, possibly at linebacker.
From the Bunnies to the Salukis.
Carmien will join the team as a preferred walk-on.
The Fisher standout got to meet Butkus, the legendary University of Illinois and Chicago Bears linebacker, once at Memorial Stadium.
His father, who played football at Illinois, introduced him to Butkus, and he got his autograph, but Carmien said he was too young to remember it.
At 6-2, 225 pounds, the Fisher senior has the size to make it. His coach at Fisher, Matt Leng, said he’s got the work ethic as well.
“He’s a coach’s dream,” Leng said. “He worked hard in practice. In our game that we teach and coach, we want the kids who will do all the prep work.”
Carmien did all that.
“He wasn’t afraid to hit. He played any position you wanted him to play,” Leng said. “I think the best football is ahead of him. He’s going to get bigger and stronger.
“He’s got an appetite for football unlike any other I’ve ever coached.”
Carmien said he also looked at Eastern Illinois and Monmouth before deciding on Southern Illinois.
A preferred walk-on means he doesn’t have to try out for the team but doesn’t receive scholarship money. If he does well enough, financial help could come down the road in the form of a scholarship.
Carmien said he picked Southern because “the coaches showed quite a bit of interest in me. They have an ag department; that’s definitely something I want to major in. I love the campus.”
Carmien said he isn’t sure what area of agriculture he will focus on.
“There’s so many jobs in the field of agriculture,” he said. “My dad is a farmer, so I could maybe take over (the farm) in a few years.”
He said he doesn’t know what to expect as a freshman. He will work hard and do what he’s told.
Like his coach, Carmien rated his work ethic as his strong suit.
“I really love football,” he said. “It takes a lot of discipline. It’s extremely rewarding. All the work pays off, the bonds you build with the players that you play with.”
Carmien said the work he put in for football helped keep him motivated to set goals and to keep him disciplined.
“I like the routine, too, so that helps,” he said.
Leng said Carmien played several positions in his high school career. He started as a tight end before playing offensive line. In addition to linebacker, he also played fullback.
Carmien earned several honors at Fisher.
He was named to play in the 2013 Illinois Coaches Association East-West Shrine All-Star Game.
He was named a 2012 IHSFCA All-State Honorable Mention, was two-time News-Gazette All-Area First-Team linebacker and two-time Heart of Illinois Conference first-team linebacker.
He finished his career with 344 career tackles, averaging 12.3 tackles per game.
Carmien said he likes linebacker best because you get to do a little of everything.
“You can pass rush; you can drop back in pass coverage, make tackles. I think it’s the best position in football,” Carmien said.
Leng said he will miss having Carmien around, but he expects him to do well at SIU.
“What’s neat about him is he wants to go somewhere where a lot’s expected of him," Leng said.
“You can’t coach size and you can’t coach aggressiveness. His height and his size and the fact that he’s going to grow into that body, that’s got to be an incredibly neat thing.”