CARTHAGE, Texas -- Carthage (Texas) High School defensive tackle Isaiah Golden knows he's a marked young man.
With his size (6-foot-3, 315 pounds), strength and college commitment (Texas A&M), he knows that he's getting an opponent's best effort week in and week out. So it's up to Golden to meet that challenge each time.
"Every day I'm thinking I have to get better at what I do," Golden said. "The dude in front of me, he can hurt me if I don't go hard. That could mess my career up, so every day, I try to go hard."
His size was the first thing that stood out to Carthage coach Scott Surratt when Golden arrived in his program after transferring from Elysian Fields (Texas) High School.
"[What stood out is] how big he is and we heard great things about him over there," Surratt said.
But when it comes to Golden, it's not just about his size. The way he can move with it, Surratt said, is impressive.
"He is probably one of the top five athletes that I've ever coached, and I've had some guys that have gone on to the NFL, because he's so athletic as a big guy," Surratt said. "He can run around and catch the football and go 50-60 yards. He can do anything. He's a freak of nature."
While he has spent the season at defensive tackle, his athletic ability leads Surratt to ponder using him on the offensive side of the ball as this season goes on. When Golden first started playing the sport, he was on offense.
"I switched over to defense about seventh grade," Golden said. "It was cool. I played linebacker. I just like to hit people. It was fun."
These days, the fun is mixed with the challenges of going against highly-motivated opponents.
"I get a challenge every week," Golden said. "I just come out and it's making me better for college. It motivates me to go harder. I know they're trying to take off my head because I'm going to A&M. But it's pretty cool."
As for Golden's commitment status to the Aggies, it's solid as of this moment. He recently received an offer from Arkansas, but is sticking with Texas A&M for the time being. He's planning to head to College Station, Texas, to take in the Aggies' showdown with LSU.
"They're close to home," Golden said was the top reason for choosing A&M. "And they moved to the SEC. That was a big part of it."
Aggies offensive line coach B.J. Anderson and running backs coach Clarence McKinney watched Golden play on Friday. He said he was happy to see them, but wished he could have played better, which was difficult because Carthage defeated an overmatched Huntington (Texas) High School squad 56-0. The starters, including Golden, were on the sideline by the second quarter.
The only school that would have a chance to alter Golden's thinking is the Aggies' opponent this week, the Tigers.
"If there's anybody that could change my mind, it would be LSU," Golden said. "They always have been one of my favorite teams. They're a good school. I just like LSU."
He said he hasn't heard from LSU lately and he even predicted an Aggie win over the Tigers when they meet at Kyle Field. So far, he likes what he has seen from the Aggies on the field this year.
"It's awesome," he said. "They're coming up. They're doing their best. They're showing that they're pretty good."