JHS Graduate Carlson Prepping For Biggest Weekend Of His Life

Stephen Carlson (84) celebrates with his former Jamestown High School coaches following Princeton’s season-ending victory last November. From the left are Richie Joly, Tom Langworthy and Ryan Calkins. Photo courtesy of Tom Langworthy

Stephen Carlson doesn’t know if he’ll be selected in the National Football League draft, but the Jamestown native and Princeton University tight end is confident that he’ll be with some team by this weekend.

“My agent (Shane Costa of Pillar Sports Management) has been saying, based on the teams he’s talked to and what they’re saying, that I should be a high-priority free agent,” he said Wednesday night. “There’s still a possibility I could end up being drafted in the last round or the last few rounds, (but) it’s so unpredictable.

Carlson added: “It really depends on how the day goes, but I’m expecting within a couple hours of the end of the draft that I’ll have a few calls with teams.”

Carlson wouldn’t divulge which teams have shown the most interest, but he did acknowledge that interest in him and teammate Jesper Horsted, a wide receiver, has picked up in the months since the tandem helped lead the Tigers to an unbeaten season and an Ivy League championship.

“Our work has paid off a little bit and people are starting to notice now,” he said.

In fact, during Pro Day visits with the Giants, Jets and Eagles earlier this month, Carlson received more favorable reports, which came on the heels of his Princeton Pro Day at the end of March.

“I talked to position coaches and they seemed to like the way I moved with my weight up to 240,” he said. “They asked about the transition from receiver to tight end, about playing special teams and all that sort of stuff.”

Among draft analysts, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has taken notice of Carlson and Horsted, praising them in a podcast with fellow analyst Todd McShay last week.

“I did hear the podcast,” Carlson said. “It’s pretty cool to hear (them) talking about us.”

Kiper has Carlson rated as the 24th-best tight end in the draft, sitting between No. 23 Donald Parham of Stetson and No. 25 Tyler Petite of USC, but the 2014 Jamestown High School graduate isn’t about to rest on his laurels should he be drafted or signed this weekend.

“I still have a long road to even make a team,” he said. “It will be nice for a week or two with everyone’s support and everyone saying nice things, but rookie minicamps start either the weekend after the draft or two weeks after the draft. If I’m not focused or working hard, it could all be for nothing.”

Reminded that he said essentially the same thing when he signed his letter-of-intent to attend Princeton four years ago, Carlson said that attitude is a “reflection of how I’ve been raised.”

“You’ve got to focus on what you’re doing at that moment,” he said. “You can’t be focused on other things and take your mind off what (you should be doing now).”

In his final season as a Tiger, Carlson had 51 receptions for 683 yards and five touchdowns. For his career, he recorded 125 catches for 1,632 yards and 16 TDs. Now he’s about to embark on another opportunity.

“It’s very exciting,” said Carlson, who will be awaiting word about his future from a dorm room on the Princeton campus. “I don’t really know what’s going to happen, but I do know I have enough interest I should definitely get a shot somewhere.”