Andrew Carter was a highly recruited interior lineman out of Leon High School in Tallahassee, Florida. He was considered one of the quickest linemen around after recording a 4.8 time in the 40 yard dash. He was expecting to compete for playing time at guard until the offense changed.
"When we started this semester, I went to two o-line meetings before being told I might be moved to tight end. After the next couple days, I was moved to tight end. So I've been working on keeping my weight down and endurance up."
The 6'-4", 284 pounder has more quickness than most linemen. That was one of the reasons for the move.
"Yeah, that and blocking and stuff like that. I was low on the charts for getting on the field, and I feel I can get on the field sooner at tight end.
"Yeah, a little bit of quickness helps. I've got to thank the guys back in Tallahassee for that. I was just a goofy guy, but there was so much speed there. We have a lot of speed here too. When the linebackers run 4.4, it's kind of hard."
How is he adjusting?
"It's going all right. I'm learning a new position and a new offense, so it's a little tough. But I'm doing all right."
What are the biggest differences between his former role and now?
"At guard, you've got help on both sides. So if a guy gets by you on one side, there's a guy right there. At tight end, you have a lot of room outside, and you have to watch the guy on the inside. And learning the new routes. There's a lot more knowledge you have to learn."
Pass routes require quickness and can be exhausting. Carter wants to keep working on that aspect of his new job.
"I'm trying. I try to use my quickness, but in the summer I want to work on that. I have pretty good endurance. I should be good with that."
And what about pass catching? Most offensive linemen lack the hands for receiving.
"It's going pretty good. I haven't played tight end since freshman year of high school, so I'm adjusting back to it."
Redshirting was difficult last fall, but it was a necessary part of the process.
"Yeah, I was used to playing every year since my freshman year. It was a learning experience. But I got bigger, stronger, better. So this year I'm ready to go play."
Carter endured winter conditioning well.
"I'd heard horror stories about how bad it was. I don't think it was too bad. It could have been worse. I did pretty well. I kept my weight down, which was good. I built my strength, and my endurance is about as good as it's ever been."
He has good things to say about tight end coach Greg Nord.
"I love Coach Nord. He really teaches you every aspect of the game, every position. He's really good."
Carter planned to get a degree in Animal Science while at Illinois, but he may now be rethinking his options.
"I'm thinking about changing from Animal Science. It's more farm related, and I didn't want to go on a farm. I'm undecided as of right now. Chemistry's a little tough. I took it last semester. I have a very high interest in animals, so maybe something in that range, just go a different way. They're one of my interests, but you never know."
After being unable to play last fall, Carter is grateful for a chance to contribute at whatever position the coaches decide.
"Oh yeah. I'm very excited."