GEORGETOWN — Growing up, Carmine Palmisano always played running back. It was his primary position all throughout youth football, but when he go to Georgetown High School, he made a sacrifice and switched to the offensive line to help his team.
Despite being somewhat undersized, Palmisano did well. He was one of Georgetown’s top lineman as a junior and was expected to be a starting offensive tackle this fall. But all along he hoped for an opportunity to play running back again, and this past offseason he did everything he could to prepare himself in case an opportunity came along.
“I knew we’d need a running back because we lost both of our seniors, so I knew that spot would be open,” Palmisano said. “I knew I’d have to work and show the coaches that was the spot they’d need to put me in.”
While it took some convincing, Georgetown’s coaching staff decided to give him a shot. Palmisano got the start in the team’s season opener against Tech Boston, and he promptly rushed for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
He hasn’t slowed down since.
Through the first four games of the season, Palmisano is the area’s leading rusher with 499 yards and three touchdowns. He is averaging 9.2 yards per carry and has been a key cog in a Georgetown offense that is averaging 25.5 points per game.
Georgetown coach Eric McCarthy called Palmisano one of the hardest working players on the team, and that it’s clear the time he put in lifting over the offseason is paying off. He added that it’s hard to argue with the results, even though offensive line coach Max Lane misses having him with the linemen.
“Coach Lane still jokes about his future on the O-line,” McCarthy said. “But for the time being Carmine has proven his merits as a running back and proven his coaches wrong in identifying his positional merits as a skill player.”
“His athleticism was night and day from where he was last year,” Lane said. “That first game, it was like ‘wow, this guy is a running back.’”
Palmisano’s performance hasn’t just earned praise from his coaches, but it has also drawn attention from college scouts. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound running back is currently being recruited by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a Division 3 program in the Liberty League.
While Palmisano’s success has largely been a product of hard work, he credited his teammates for being there for him and his line in particular for all of the hard work they put in — a grind he understands better than most. He added that beyond his own desire to play running back, he drew inspiration from his late grandfather, Frank Sampson, who he knew would have been proud to see him reach this point.
“My grandfather, he was one of my biggest supporters, especially when it came to football,” Palmisano said. “I always had his words in my head thinking about him, because I lost him a couple of years ago, I knew if he was still here he’d love to see me playing running back, so I always keep it on the back of my head. I have the date he died [Feb. 21, 2017] on my cleats and I know he’d be there for me.”