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June 1, 2012

Rivals Challenge not fun and games to Lawson

MORE: Five-Star Challenge | Underclassmen Challenge

Dallas Jackson is the National High School Sports Analyst for Rivals. Email him your questions and comments at DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton defensive end Carl Lawson has a reputation for being competitive. So, to say the mentality of some of his summer-camp brethern confuses him would be an understatement.

"I don't understand the 'just go out and have fun' part," Lawson said. "I guess I never will, but when I am out there I am there to take care of business.

"No one is going to remember who was doing good and having fun; they are going to remember who came and showed out. That is why I go and compete. These are business trips."

The chance to take on the best players in the country at the June 22-24, invitation-only Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge will be another chance for Lawson to prove he belongs on the national stage.

In the recently released Rivals100, Lawson was bumped up to five-star status and ranked as the No. 8 player at his position and No. 14 overall player in the country.

For the Auburn commit, both of those placements can be improved upon.

"I care about it," he said. "I feel like I am the best, and even though I am ranked high, there are guys that people think are better than me, so I can get out there and show them that I am the best."

The 6-foot-2, 253-pound player, who has run a 4.7, 40-yard dash, admits that the rankings, ultimately, don't matter, but that does not stop him from using them as motivation.

"When I get to school next year, it won't matter where I am ranked because I will be ranked on a depth chart and that will matter more," Lawson said. "But right now, I can make sure it pushes me to be better.

"If I lose more than I win, then I will know and I will be motivated."

The trip from Alpharetta to Lakewood Stadium in south Atlanta is brief. The proximity to Lawson's house will make this an easy camp to stay focused on, and it is that focus that Lawson says will be one of his strengths.

"Football is my passion," he said. "I am going to play football, not make friends and see the town. This is already my area, so I can be ready to go."

His fire for the game helps fuel a community that is usually focused on basketball. Milton has won multiple state championships and has been ranked nationally for much of the last decade.

That doesn't take the focus off of football, at least for Lawson.

"Football reigns supreme," he said. "It doesn't matter to me how good our hoops team is ... but football is what packs the house and gets people excited.

"People may like basketball, but they love football. That is how I am, I have a desire to be out there playing and competing."

Mike Farrell's take

Lawson was outstanding at the Rivals.com/VTO Georgia Camp and he's always willing to compete,so he has a chance to dominate this camp. He's extremely powerful, plays with good leverage and is quick off the ball, so for offensive linemen to handle him they will need to get out of their stance quickly, kick slide fluidly and always have their feet working. Lawson's power against the power of Khaliel Rodgers, the nation's No. 1 guard and arguably the strongest player in the country, will be an amazing matchup.

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