Future Buckeye Got Late Start On Football

For most kids who end up playing for Ohio State, football has been a constant presence for as long as they can remember. In the case of Cleveland John F. Kennedy offensive lineman Chris Carter, however, football was a late arrival to the scene. BuckeyeSports.com has more.

Listed at 6-4, 325 pounds, Chris Carter is the heaviest verbal commitment in Ohio State's class of 2010. A relative newcomer to the sport of football, the three-star offensive guard prospect spent his formative years playing baseball instead.

He was a shortstop.

"I was all of 5-10 and at least 200 pounds," Carter told BuckeyeSports.com. "I was a big guy. I just played. If coach told me I was going to be at shortstop, I went to shortstop. I wasn't thinking too much like, ‘Wow, I've got to play shortstop.' If coach told me to, I did it."

It was not the only position Carter manned on the diamond, however. The future Buckeye also suited up as a catcher and a left fielder. It was not until his sophomore year that he started playing football, which also happened to be his first full year at Cleveland John F. Kennedy.

He opted to go out for the sport at the urging of his father.

"That was the first time I ever touched a football and I fell in love with it," he said. "When I was younger I played a little bit of baseball but I didn't fall too much in love with it like I thought I would. I was pressured a little by my dad to join the football team. I said, ‘Sure, why not?' because what was the worst that could happen? And we're here today, three years later."

He nearly went out for the sport as a freshman at Cleveland East Tech but a mid-season transfer to JFK kept him off the field until the following season. When he trotted onto the field at his new school, he was accompanied by a new head coach: Scott Wodtly.

It did not take Wodtly long to spot potential in the sophomore.

"The first thing I noticed was that he has the build to play college football," the coach said. "He was obviously a large man. He was 6-4 and 300 pounds as a sophomore but his athletic ability was outstanding. I told him if he did his part and I did my part that he could definitely be a scholarship athlete."

First up was strength training with the team.

"We went to lift weights and there was no talking or playing around," he said. "All you would hear was the ‘click-clack' of the weights. I was intimidated, but now that I'm a veteran I get to help the JV's and freshmen coming in and I can watch them being intimidated by the weights."

Wodtly said he made it his responsibility to refine Carter's raw skills.

"He was definitely a good student and knew he wouldn't have any problems but you could see that he had that ability to go to the next level," he said. "We had to make sure that we kept him focused and kept him working on fundamentals like firing off the ball. All the things it takes to be a good football player. His natural ability would take over from there."

Wodtly started receiving phone calls from college recruiters during Carter's sophomore season. His first offer came from the Buckeyes and was accepted Feb. 27, 2009.

Once his career got underway, Carter said learning to play in the trenches was not a mentally challenging task. He lines up as a defensive end as well but will be an offensive guard at OSU.

"It wasn't really hard at all," he said. "At my position it's not really difficult. It's hit the man over you and don't stop until the stretcher comes out. The only hard thing that I had was I had difficulties with the conditioning. I'm not much of a runner but know I'll become one down at OSU. Also, aggression."

That latter statement is something both Carter and Wodtly said remains a work in progress.

"He's a gentle giant," the coach said. "He's big, he's strong but you're really got to push Chris to get that anger edge. I always tell him at some point you're going to recognize you're the biggest, strongest and baddest guy on this football field. Once that light comes on, it's going to be scary how good he can be.

"I'm really excited to see what is going to happen with him on the next level because I really think he hasn't tapped into his potential yet."

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