Daylan Carnell had his best game of the season three days after his 20th birthday.
It’s been a big week. Carnell’s PFF score from the New Mexico State Game – 95.2. Another important number: six. Carnell vaulted a pass down the middle from Aggie quarterback Diego Pavia and took it fully, cementing Missouri’s blowout win with a pick six.
“We’ve been seeing and drilling this formation in the field all week,” said Carnell. “Number three drove at an angle, ran over number two. The ball was there late and after that it was all end zone.”
As with many touchdowns at Faurot Field, the aftermath of Carnell’s goal took fans’ breath away. Carnell sprinted through the end zone and slipped on the track around Faurot Field. Then cornerback DJ Jackson ran after him to celebrate and he also slipped on the track.
“I wanted to make sure I got in,” Carnell said. “I was running at full speed, just turned around and sat on the track.”
In his redshirt freshman season, Carnell made the most of his limited-edition snaps. He has two picks, one for a touchdown and another in a key moment against Florida to give Missouri a chance to level the game in the fourth quarter. Carnell also has 23 tackles and two tackles for losses.
It seems that every time he is on the field, Carnell tends to make a play.
“He’s a guy who’s always on the ball,” said Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz. “He’s always on the ball and his production is really good.”
Technically, Carnell Martez is Manuel’s backup at the starting position, which is one of those “good issues” Drinkwitz laments.
“It’s a weird deal because he was playing behind a really good player in Martez, so you take one off and wish you could find a way to get both of them on the field at the same time,” Drinkwitz said. “What we do in one of our third down packages. But Daylan has done a really good job, he’s developing and continues to be a real force there.”
In the past, Baker has suggested the possibility of fielding both Carnell and Manuel on early downs, but that requires taking a defender or linebacker off the field. Missouri tried that against Tennessee from a different position, using Dreyden Norwood as an extra corner and knocking out a defender to stop the Vols’ passing attack.
Not entirely coincidentally, Tennessee’s running game started shortly thereafter.
However, Carnell isn’t complaining about the situation and credits Manuel for a large part of his development this season.
“He’s very experienced,” Carnell said. “Played here for four years. Great guy, great leader. I really can’t thank him enough for what he has done for me and this team in general. Martez is my type.”
Looking back on the spring, Drinkwitz and defensive coordinator Blake Baker called Carnell perfect for the starting position despite playing a year behind Manuel. It’s easy to see why.
Carnell has the height — 6-foot-2, 218 pounds — the speed and, most importantly, the instinct to play star.
“I just really grew into it,” Carnell said. “Really, it’s just a fun position. Coach Baker always tells me it was made for me.”
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