The Carter Impact
By Brandon Castel
After a tumultuous couple of weeks, Chris Carter officially ended the suspense Thursday evening by becoming a member of Ohio State’s 2011 class.
Nearly a month after the rest of his class signed with the Buckeyes back on National Signing Day, Carter finally signed his national letter of intent, becoming the 24th member of the class.
There were some who felt the John F. Kennedy High School standout shouldn’t be allowed to play for the Buckeyes after his arrest, despite the fact charges were never filed. Others felt the 6-foot-6, 350-pound offensive lineman was a necessity in the class—at almost any cost—because of the premium position he plays.
It makes no difference, however, because Carter is now officially a Buckeye; or at least a part of the Ohio State family. OSU Head Coach Jim Tressel never took his scholarship offer off the table, and Carter wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to play for the Buckeyes.
It’s clear that Tressel and his assistants think very highly of this young man or else they would have washed their hands of him after the incident, which involved suspicion that Carter had groped more than a half-dozen girls at his school under the guise of measuring them for Army ROTC uniforms.
Charges were never filed, but it’s obvious that wasn’t the only hurdle Carter had to clear before he could officially join his classmates as a part of the 2011 class. Just based on Tressel’s statement, it’s clear the Buckeyes did their due-diligence in deciding whether or not to bring him on board.
“He has had a great support system at home, as well as at his high school with the likes of his principal Maryum Sims, his athletic director Velma Pettiegrew, and his coach Scott Wodtly,” Tressel said.
“They truly believe that Chris will have great success on and off the field at Ohio State.”
It’s that latter part of that statement that comes most squarely into focus now as Carter transitions to the next phase of his life. Tressel is all about giving second chances, but he isn’t much for third and fourth ones.
Whatever happened in Cleveland leading up to signing day, Carter will have to fly right in Columbus if he wants to avoid further media scrutiny, and more importantly, Tressel’s doghouse, which can be notoriously cold and lonely.
Impact on the Field
For all the talk about Carter’s place in this class, it’s not like he’s actually going to see the field in 2011. In fact, it might be a while before he ever gets a crack at real playing time for the Buckeyes.
It’s completely unfair to lump him in with Antonio Underwood and Tommy Brown just because they weren’t blue-chip prospects, but all three guys really are projects. Sometimes projects turn out to be great football players down the road. Sometimes it happens sooner rather than later, as was the case with Bryant Browning. Sometimes they never pan out, ala Josh Kerr and Evan Blankenship.
It doesn’t mean those guys were wasted scholarships, because the ones that do pan out make it worthwhile, particularly on the offensive line. The Buckeyes are exceptionally thin up front at the moment. They return only seven scholarship offensive linemen from last year’s team, and starting left tackle Mike Adams is suspended for five games.
Even with the low numbers, Carter likely won’t be in the two-deep when he arrives in Columbus. A couple of turned ankles and the inevitable shoulder injury could change that, but right now the best thing Carter can provide is depth.
With numbers running thin, Carter is another big body Jim Bollman can put in there during practice. He has a lot of growing up to do, and a long ways to go in terms of learning the game and what it takes to play at the college level, but one thing Carter does not lack is size. He is a mountain of a man and has tremendous strength.
He was an all-state performer for Kennedy High School, along with being first-team all-region and the Senate League’s Most Valuable Player. That’s not exactly the “Greater Catholic League,” however, and Carter has never faced the kind of competition he will see at Ohio State, despite taking his team to the Division II state playoffs.
The good news is that Carter is late addition to a position of need for the Buckeyes. He shouldn’t change their plan for next year when it comes to recruiting on the offensive line, because the Buckeyes were already short from last year’s class, but it doesn’t make a somewhat dire situation a little less dire.
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