Carter Anxious to See What His Old Coach Brings to New Buckeyes
By Tony Gerdeman
Urban Meyer's first college coaching job was that of a graduate assistant helping out with tight ends and receivers at Ohio State in the mid '80s. It was a job that he obviously became very good at, and it started him on his path throughout the college coaching carousel.
He became somewhat of a wide receiver guru, coaching the position at Ohio State, Illinois State, Colorado State and Notre Dame. Meyer came into contact with a slew of talented receivers during his days as an assistant, but none were as dynamic as the receiver he saw his first year in the profession—Ohio State's Cris Carter.
Carter exploded on the scene in Columbus as a freshman, and then set the school record for receptions (58) and receiving yards (950) as a sophomore in 1985. It was his 1986 season, however, that made Carter a household name. He broke his own school records that season, hauling in 69 passes for 1,127 yards, and became the school's first consensus All-American wide receiver.
Those numbers happened to coincide with Meyer's first year on staff, but that's mostly just a coincidence. However, it did give Meyer a basis on which to coach and teach every other receiver that he ever came into contact with.
They were only on the field together for a season, but their paths would cross again years later, and a friendship would be rekindled. After his playing days, Carter spent time helping with the St. Thomas Aquinas high school football team, and any coach worth his salt made their way through those halls looking for some of the nation's best prospects.
Meyer was no different. Not only was he looking at players that Carter was helping to develop, but he also happened to be recruiting Carter's son Duron, who was himself a receiver for Aquinas. Despite the interest, however, the younger Carter was never offered a scholarship to play for the Gators. There were no hard feelings, however, because Duron ended up at Ohio State (albeit briefly), and that didn't bother his father one bit.
Cris Carter and Urban Meyer have a relationship that has spanned nearly three decades—including an entire generation, and with both working at ESPN at the same time, even their paychecks over last seven or eight months were coming from the same place.
In other words, Carter knows Meyer pretty well, and so when he talks about him publicly, his words should carry a little bit more weight than your average opinion giver. Speaking Tuesday morning to ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike, Carter was asked to give his thoughts on Meyer taking the Ohio State job less than one year after retiring, and he didn't hesitate to do so.
“I think that Urban was fairly honest in saying that he didn't plan on getting back into coaching as fast as he did,” he said.
“The opportunity at Ohio State is a great option for him. I believe that he'll do a great job there. The Big Ten needs a little sizzle.”
That “sizzle”, according to Carter, will spark some fires that Ohio State fans have never seen burning.
“I believe that he will do things in recruiting that Ohio State couldn't do before,” he said. “They'll be a lot faster football team.”
There may be no better recruiter in the nation than Meyer, and Jim Tressel battled him on the recruiting trail for years. Some he won, some he didn't, but every Buckeye fan that pays attention to recruiting can tell you all about the ones that got away.
Things have now changed for Ohio State in that regard. They don't have to battle Meyer for recruits anymore because he's finally swinging his stick for the home team,and Cris Carter believes that Meyer will be recruiting with a singular purpose in mind.
“They don't match up well against the SEC in the big games. So I think that Urban Meyer will give Ohio State that opportunity. Very few of the Big Ten teams matchup with the SEC right now because the SEC is dominating college football.”
Carter doesn't think Meyer will have to start over, because he says there are already pieces in place. But what he puts around those pieces will make all of the difference.
“They have a Braxton Miller as a quarterback in place,” he said.
“They'll get some explosion to their offense. Their offense has been bad for a long time. I think he'll help that immediately.”
But don't think Carter sees improvement just for the offense, he also sees room for improvement on the other side of the ball as well.
“The last ten years Ohio State has had a top five defense, so they'll get even better on the defensive side.”
It may all sound too good to be true, but Carter certainly believes what he sees in the Buckeyes' new coach, and he's only known Urban Meyer for most of his life.
If Meyer can provide even a fraction of what Carter foresees, then Ohio State will have gotten its money's worth. Though admittedly it will have been much more expensive than the last time Meyer was in town.
Now if only he can find another Cris Carter to work with on this team, he'll be set.
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