And it's only just begun…No, not those Carpenters. Last week, I crashed the Indiana Hoosier practice session in Bloomington. And, in addition to watching some heavy collision activities, I ran into Rob Carpenter, father of Bobby and Jonathan Carpenter.
Rob is also the head coach of the newly powerful Lancaster high school football program (as well as an All-American himself from Miami and a ten year veteran of the NFL). Jonathan Carpenter is a good-looking 215-pound running back whose style reminds Rob of his own from those bygone days. "Although he's 20 pounds bigger than I was", he said. "Jonathan's got that slashing style that fits well into our Wing-T offense." Jonathan Carpenter hopes to get some love from Indiana and the other Big Ten schools that are giving him a look.
Inevitably, the meandering discussion with Rob got around to his son Bobby and the recent fisticuffs in Columbus that cost Bobby the remainder of the spring practice period. "It's strange," Rob said. "This is a kid who has never been in a fight his entire life. He and AJ Hawk were waiting for Anthony Schlegel in a parking lot and these eight kids jump Schlegel. Bobby and AJ run out to help and Bobby got hit with something (could have been a baseball bat…) that broke the bones around his eye socket. I asked Bobby if he learned a lesson from it all and he asked me, ‘What – I'm not going to help out a friend in trouble?' He's right. What else could he do?"
It's unfortunate because Bobby Carpenter had a chance to hog some spotlight this spring. Reynolds and Pagac are a little banged up and two senior LB's are graduating. But that's the breaks – as it were.
"Bobby and AJ formed an immediate friendship with Anthony Schlegel. It was just bad luck, this thing."
When I introduced Rob Carpenter to some of the recruits, I explained to them that he was a football guy. One of the kids asked, "Did you play in college?" I quickly inserted that he not only played college ball but he played in the NFL. Rob laughed at that and said, "Well, I fooled ‘em in the NFL for ten years. That must say a lot about them!" Or a lot about a humble Rob Carpenter.
Rob said that Bobby is the oldest of four and that for the younger two boys to get out of that family alive would be a miracle. "They all have fork marks on their hands from trying to steal each others' food at the table. The violence amongst them is incredible." If there are two more like Bobby and Jonathan, then we have two more Lancaster recruits we will be following in a couple of years.
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A coincidence to tie it together…I also introduced myself to Coach Mallory, now retired but once the head coach of some surprisingly good Indiana football teams - before he moved on to Colorado. He was at the IU practice watching DiNardo and the boys run through their paces. Turns out that Mallory recruited Rob Carpenter at Miami and was his coach there from '73 to '76. Rob was a roommate with Randy Walker back then. Walker is now the head man at Northwestern, a fact that had many recruitniks speculating that son Bobby would become a Wildcat.
"Nahh," said Rob. "Bobby really wanted to be with a winning program and he didn't see that at Northwestern." I asked Rob if he still follows Miami football. "Not since they changed the name to ‘RedHawks'. I am an Ohio State fan."
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Transfers and walk-ons…The quantity and quality of kids that Coach Tressel is putting together from a growing stockpile of transfers and walk-ons is nothing short of incredible. The highest profile transfer is the aforementioned Anthony Schlegel, captain and leading tackler from Air Force. But we also have much heralded Ryan Franzinger, a fullback from Cleveland St. Ignatius. And, perhaps, that is not the last news we will hear from past St. Iggy products.
But there is another huge potential transfer looming on the horizon: Punter Greg "The Leg" Johnson has formally left Vanderbilt (as of March 27) and is casting about for a new football program. Johnson was a Freshman All-American at Vandy last year and still has three years of eligibility left. The recruiting rumor mills have it that his decision will come down to Texas A&M and our beloved Ohio State Buckeyes.
In a couple weeks, we will do a column on the great class of "non-scholarship" players migrating to the national champs. We've already interviewed Corporal Cliff Reynolds (yes, from that same Lancaster football program…) and super kicker Brian Pierce – who last week turned down a full ride to Minnesota to become a "preferred walk-on" at Ohio State. Both kids joined us in April on the Bucknuts Radio Hour. Look out for a gaggle of other walk-ons on the radio as we will talk with Steve Fender, Jordan Hoewicsher and George Anderson coming up.
And we might have a few surprises in-store for you as well…
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One last surprise…At least for this week. We've been talking with OL Dan Dye's family. Dan is visiting OSU tomorrow and looks like he will be the latest in the line of high quality walk-ons. This lineman from Napoleon has been talking with the coaching staff and will visit Ohio State tomorrow, according to his mother. He might not even be a preferred walk-on or join the team until winter, but the staff told the Dyes, "You will be a Buckeye!"
While this Dye might be cast, look for even more intriguing models in the next few weeks…
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