Brion Carnes has been around the game of football for a long time. Growing up in a talent-rich area like Manatee County, you either rise to the top or get washed out. Carnes started all four years for Bradenton High School in Manatee as a dual-threat quarterback, recording 5,972 yards through the air and 48 touchdowns, as well as collecting 1,095 yards on the ground and additional 23 touchdowns. In 2009, Carnes lead his football team to the Manatee High School’s first State championship in 16 years, losing to Plant High School 21-14.
Following his senior year, he committed to the University of Nebraska, where he played with some future NFL players such as our very own Lavonte David, Patriots’ running back Rex Burkhead, former Bears/ Saints wide receiver Cameron Merideth, and one time Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver/ kick returner Kenny Bell. Carnes did not get much playing time while as a Cornhusker having only attempted two passes, one against Chattanooga on September 3, 2011, completing a 19-yard pass and another on October 22nd, 2011 completing one pass for 7 yards against Minnesota.
After a season with Nebraska and getting little playing time, he transferred to the University of Northern Iowa, where he put his legs to work, returning 13 punts for 64 yards, a long of 52, and fielding 2 kick returns for 38 yards with a long of 26.
After his playing days were over in the collegiate circuit, Carnes was hoping to get a call from the NFL; however, he did not, and instead of sitting in self-pity because his NFL dreams did not come to light, his drive and determination lead him to the Indoor Football League and the Arena League, where he played for the Omaha Beef, Nebraska Danger, and for the Cedar Rapid Titans. Currently, Carnes is the JV Head Coach and Varsity WR coach for Sarasota High School and the quarterback for the Tampa Bay Tornadoes.
Recently I had the chance to catch up with Brion Carnes, and he graciously took time out of his busy schedule to do a quick Q&A.
JJ: What made you dust off the cleats?
BC: Just getting the opportunity to play at home.
JJ: What are some of your personal goals this season?
BC: Just to continue to get better each week and bring back a championship to Tampa Bay.
JJ: Now you speak of a championship which the Tampa Area has been longing for; is that one of many team goals? What are the team goals for this season and moving forward?
BC: As a team, we’re trying to WIN every game. As a team, we’re going to bring a winning organization to the city of Tampa.
JJ: Are there any steps in your playing career you want to take beyond playing for the Tornadoes?
BC: Of course, any opportunity I can get. If it’s workouts, for the XFL, CFL, or if possible, the NFL, that’ll always be the goal; but, right now, I’m a Tornado, and I’m going to give everything I have to bring a Championship to the City.
JJ: We have seen multiple Arena Leagues come and go; do you think this League will stand the test of time and why?
BC: I think it will. We got the right supporters, and they’re doing it the right way.
JJ: Were you a little upset that you will be playing in a smaller venue and not one the size of Amalie Arena?
BC: Not at all.
JJ: You are coaching High School ball now? How’s that going?
BC: I mean it’s offseason time now, so the kids are working hard in the weight room, or they are playing other sports now.
JJ: How did last season go for you all?
BC: We finished the season 6-4. So we had a decent year from previous years. Just looking to get our Juniors and Sophomores to step up and continue what we started this past year.
JJ: Who are some of the coaches that had an influence on you in life, and with your coaching?
BC: My God Father Ricky Simmons, Coach Joe Kinnan, my UNI QB Coach/ Current Nebraska QB Coach Mario Verduzco they all push me to be great at everything I do. Not just on the field, but in the classroom, and Life Period.
JJ: While we are on the subject of Nebraska and UNI, how was it transitioning from a big-time football University, playing in front of 100 thousand fans every week, to playing on the FCS level in front of 30-50 thousand fans a week? Was it difficult?
BC: Football is Football. It doesn’t matter the level of competition is.
JJ: Is there anything you would like to say to the Tornado fans out there?
BC: Tornado Fans, let’s bring the energy this season! Arena Football is back in the Great City of Tampa Bay!!!TornadoNation🌪🌪🌪