It was a busy month at Lancaster High School, home of RB prospect Jonathan Carpenter.
"We had 39 Division I schools that stopped in Lancaster," said head coach Rob Carpenter. "We've got Jonathan and a couple linebackers that they were looking at. He's been getting calls at night by some of the coaches but I'm not sure who's even been calling him."
Buckeye fans are familiar with the Carpenters, especially since Jonathan's older brother Bobby is entering his sophomore season as an Ohio State linebacker. It turns out that Bobby is giving lots of recruiting advice to Jonathan, and one thing he is telling him is to keep things quiet.
"He's had a couple magazines like yours call him up and want him to rate schools and everything," Coach Carpenter said. "His older brother Bobby went through this a couple years ago… I'm his coach and his father, and he's listening to Bobby more than he is me, and Bobby tells him ‘Don't tell anybody who you're interested in or who's offering you because when you start doing that, other schools will just pull off of you.'
"That happened with Bobby a lot too. We had 75 Division I schools in when he was being recruited. Everybody just thought he was going to Ohio State, so a lot of schools just kind of pulled back, figuring ‘We don't have a chance.' I think Jonathan's just taking Bobby's advice and just listening to everybody."
The schools that have come in to see him have discovered that Jonathan passes "the look test."
"Everybody when they see Jonathan, they're interested in him when they see him up close and personal," said Coach Carpenter. "He's kind of a physical specimen actually. He's 215 pounds and he doesn't have any fat on him. He's lean."
Jonathan is an excellent athlete; he was a state qualifier as a swimmer, and he went out for track in the first time in the spring.
"He's never really been a big runner," Coach Carpenter said. "He was on the relay team, the 4x100 team. He ran the open 100. He's not a speed burner as far as the open 100; I think his fastest time was 11.65. That doesn't look real good on paper, but I think Northwestern, Kentucky, maybe Iowa, and I think Michigan State saw him run, and they were all impressed. When they see him run, he runs real strong. He's a legitimate 4.65 40. He wins the 30-yard dash in most of the times he runs the 100 meters.
"He's kind of a short strider, which makes him a good running back. He's kind of a cutback, cutting style of runner. He can cut either direction and not lose any speed. That's his forte, I'd say."
As previously mentioned, Jonathan is keeping things quiet and hasn't expressed interest in any particular schools. He'll be taking visits and camping this summer to learn more.
"I know he's going to NW's camp specifically," Coach Carpenter said. "He's going to visit some other camps too. He's interested in teams that run a multi-back offense, which there's not a lot of those… He's very concerned about the academic part. He wants to be in pre-med. He wants to be a doctor, so he's looking at everything from that angle, and then the angle that he wants to go someplace where they run a multi-back attack because he's kind of an old-school kind of a runner from the standpoint that in a one-back offense, everybody just seems to want the one back who can get to the other goal line as quick as possible speed-wise. Jonathan's a good blocker, he's a good runner, he's a really good receiver, and he fakes the ball really good too. Those are the things in a lot of one-back offenses -- obviously the running and the blocking and the faking -- are very important. He's looking at everything from the academic standpoint and a multi-back attack, and there aren't a lot of schools like that out there anymore."
Jonathan had a fine year statistically in 2002.
"Rushing-wise, he had 1102 yards," the coach said. "I can't remember exactly how many carries, but he had an 8.15 yard average. He had 6 rushing touchdowns and a couple receiving touchdowns, but we don't throw the ball that much."
There are two more players at Lancaster getting attention, and one is LB/DE Jason Karns. Right now, teams are trying to figure out where he fits in.
"It's been a little slow with him," Coach Carpenter said. "A lot of teams are trying to figure out what he does best, he's an inside backer for us but the kid's growing. He's going to end up probably going to be 265-270 in another year and a half. So a lot of teams look at him and wonder is he a defensive end or a linebacker."
Coach Carpenter says that Karns is a real sleeper and that he'll line up at LB this year.
"I think he'll have a big year because there's no one high school offensive lineman whose going to be able to block him," he said.
The other LB to keep an eye on is Matt Watkins.
"(Matt) had been a basketball player primarily… but he's kind of changed a little bit here since the season," Coach Carpenter said. "Matt's just a quarter inch under 6-3 and he was 200 pounds during the season, but since the season, I think he's put on 28 pounds, so he's almost 230 pounds now. So a lot of teams are looking at him. Louisville is showing the most interest in him at this point.
"All the MAC schools are interested in them and I think Iowa and Michigan State. Nebraska I think has called them. They have a great publicity machine; they send them stuff all the time, but I think they've been getting a couple calls there recently."
Where will these players be camping this summer?
"I think Jason's going to Michigan's camp," Coach Carpenter said. "I know Matt's going down to Louisville and I think he's going to the University of Akron's camp. I'm not sure if Jason's going anywhere besides Michigan.
"As far as Jonathan, he's going to Northwestern, and he likes Indiana from the standpoint that he'd probably go back over there since they run the two-back attack… We haven't really sat down and mapped it out yet."