Carpenter: Two-Way Threat?

Bobby Carpenter definitely has the athletic ability to play tight end, he's just never done it before. But with Ohio State facing depth problems at tight end, Carpenter has been asked to fill in and he has embraced the role. We recently caught up with Carpenter who gave his thoughts on playing offense, his dealings with Mike Vrabel, the progress of OSU's defense and more

Ohio State's Bobby Carpenter is one of the top linebackers in the Big Ten and has always been known for his outstanding athletic ability.

With the Buckeyes facing depth concerns at tight end, Carpenter has been asked to fill in offensively and he seems to like it.

"It's different than defense, but I've kind of got a feel for it now," Carpenter said. "As long as the tackles tell me what to do and the quarterbacks tell me the routes, I'll be all right."

Whether Carpenter actually plays tight end in games is anyone's guess. But the coaching staff is preparing him in case of an emergency.

"I've taken a few reps," Carpenter said. "I had a lot in the jersey scrimmage and I wasn't really expecting that, but they kind of threw me in there and I was mostly working with some short-yardage stuff. Then they kind of worked me into the whole package. It's exciting. It's a little change-up. Anytime you can catch the ball, it's fun. Any way I can help the team this year, I'm excited to do that. I guess I can display some of the skills that I have and that will be exciting for me."

Carpenter played offense in high school, but did not play tight end.

"I played running back in high school, so I've touched the ball," he said. "I know how to handle the ball a little bit. But as far as tight end, it's new. I'm excited to learn and it's fun. You watch Mike Vrabel on TV do a little bit of both, so hopefully I can do a small portion of that."

It's a growing trend in football for players to go both ways. We're not seeing the reincarnation of the "single platoon" era, but more and more players are helping out on both sides of the ball.

"Well, I think at Ohio State, we've got a couple guys like that right now," Carpenter said. "And a guy like Mike Vrabel who was so successful here and goes up there (to the New England Patriots). I guess it's kind of the ultimate team thing. He goes up and plays defense and is successful there. Defensive end, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, then goes in as goal-line tight end. So, what more could you ask of a guy besides do all that?"

Carpenter was asked if he's called former OSU WR/CB Chris Gamble for any tips on playing both ways.

"I'm not doing a whole lot like he was," he said. "Anytime they call me I'll be excited to hop in there and hopefully do the best I can. I talked to Vrabel a little bit about it over the summer just learning what he did. And Coach Tressel told me to do a little route running over the summer when we did our 7-on-7 stuff. So, I asked him about it and had Troy (Smith) and Justin (Zwick) telling me what to do. So, it's exciting for me and I'm looking forward to a new challenge.

"I want to leave here scoring a touchdown, either offensively or defensively. Hopefully this will put me in a better position to do that."

Oh yeah, Carpenter still plays a little outside linebacker as well. In fact, if he wasn't somewhat overshadowed by teammate A.J. Hawk, Carpenter's name would probably be appearing on preseason All-American lists.

Overall, Carpenter says that OSU's defense as a whole is looking good and is ready for the season to begin.

"(Defensive coordinator Jim) Heacock I would say is pleased," Carpenter said. "He's talked a lot about how we're running to the football. We've done a good job of stopping the pass. Stopping the run still needs a little work, but he thinks we're further along than what he expected or where he thought we were. Hopefully we have the kind of team this year where we can call limited packages on defense and let our athletes go out there and make plays.

"As far as a linebacking standpoint, we look pretty good so far. Miami is definitely going to be a tough opponent. They've had one of the top offenses in the MAC for the last six, seven years and their quarterback (Josh Betts) can really throw it around. They've got some skilled receivers who can make some plays and a good running back."

The RedHawks like to spread the field offensively and will make linebackers cover all over the field.

"They make you be an athlete out there," Carpenter said. "If you're not an athlete, you're definitely going to be exposed on Saturday. They make everyone play in space and their goal is to try and get individual match-ups on players and isolate and get their best guys on some of our guys and see what they can do."

Carpenter's father – Rob Carpenter – is a former NFL running back with the Houston Oilers, New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams. Prior to that, he was a star at Miami University.

But the elder Carpenter won't have mixed emotions on Saturday.

"Yeah, he's a Miami graduate, but he's definitely rooting for me," Bobby said. "He roots for Cincinnati when my brother (Jon) plays Miami. So, he's a Miami alum and he likes it down there, but you definitely have to root for your children, I'd say, over your alma mater."

Saturday can't get here fast enough for Carpenter. He's ready for his senior season to begin.

"It's so exciting coming in on opening day," he said. "You're always so pumped up. It's a big game and people are talking about, ‘Oh, Miami of Ohio.' But Miami of Ohio is a good school. And especially it's our last… it's the beginning of the end for the seniors. So, we're going to go in there pumped up and try to make a run to be undefeated at home. That's a goal of every team at Ohio State and we've only lost one home game since I've been here (Wisconsin 2004). So, that's something that we've got to live up to and meet the challenge."

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