I'm not an impartial journalist. I'm a Bearcat football fan. As a Bearcat football fan, I absolutely loved talking to Tony Carvitti. I was already a fan of Tony's before our interview. Now I'm ready to be president of his fan club.
What's not to like about this young man? After being named 1st team all-state in Division I and chosen as Ohio's Defensive Player of the Year, Tony had no scholarship offers from the over 100 Division IA universities. It is a disappointment that still stings him today. "It was very frustrating. At times it made me mad. I'd see my friends getting offers but not me. I'd see other players getting offers, and it was because they were bigger than I was. It seemed like my (game) stats didn't matter."
Carvitti is unusual in several ways. He's a "down" defensive linemen despite standing only 6' and weighing 230 pounds-much smaller than the typical defensive end in Div. IA. He also passed up offers from schools that really wanted him like Yale and Dayton to walk-on at UC. In an age when many athletes want to be pampered, Carvitti only wants the chance to compete and outwork his competition. His high school coach, Doug Ramsey, recognized this strength. "Nobody works harder than Tony Carvetti. Some guys might be bigger or faster, but I guarantee no one will outwork him."
There's an old saying in sports. "Tough times don't last; tough people do." That old saying could easily be Tony's motto. But despite Tony's dogged work ethic, there was a time when Tony questioned his decision to walk-on at UC. Tony had been moved to linebacker-an unfamiliar position, and many of the other linebackers were hurt. Because of the injuries, Tony had to run every play in practice with no breaks. He felt under appreciated and overworked, "I was ready to throw in the towel." But that feeling didn't last long. Bill Poland, Tony's best friend and teammate, knew Tony was exhausted and discouraged. Poland walked over to his friend and told Tony that he could make it through this tough time. Tony did. When asked it he since regretted his decision to attend UC, Tony replied quickly. "No. I like it. I think the competition brings out the best in a person, and many of my friends are on the team."
When UC made the coaching change from Coach Minter to Coach Dantonio, it was especially tough for Tony. After seeing Tony in practice each day, Minter grew to like the kid from Elder. Tony worked his way off the scout team and onto the 2-deep chart. "Coach Minter leaving really hurt me a lot. I had worked my way onto a couple of packages, and the defensive coordinator was telling me about how I fit into next year's plans. Then Coach Minter was gone, and I was back to ground zero." However, ground zero is not where he would stay. "I started out on the scout team again, but it was almost the same as the last time. About game 4 or 5, coaches started noticing me beating the first and second team guys." Last season Tony played on all special teams except punt returns and was one of the 62 players to make the traveling squad.
Tony is a "preferred" walk-on which entitles him to nothing other than a guaranteed roster spot. But Tony has enjoyed his free trips to opponents' campuses, especially Army. "It was really great being in that atmosphere. That song and dance they do after they score is really crazy. Coach had told us he didn't want to hear their song, but I was hoping we'd give up a field goal so I could hear it. I didn't expect to hear it 600 times that day. Once would have been enough."
Tony will be competing at defensive end this spring with Adam Roberts, Anthony Hoke and Donald Germany. Despite being undersized for that position, he prefers it to playing linebacker. "I like playing the defensive line. I know it a lot better than linebacker."
Carvitti also confirmed that the coaching staff experimented by moving Delbert Ferguson to linebacker last year, but he didn't expect to see the experiment continued this spring.
Tony Carvitti plays football with passion, the way it's supposed to be played. If you watch him on special teams, he has a great nose for the football. That nose could have taken him to Dayton to play his college ball. He would surely have been a starter and maybe even an All-American, but he chose the tougher route. Playing defensive end at UC will supply Tony with plenty of tough times, but UC football fans know that tough times don't last, Tony Carvitti does.