Ohio State wide receiver Drew Carter (6-4, 200, Jr.) has recovered nicely from the torn ACL in his left knee that sidelined him all of 2001.
Just how strong is Carter's knee? Strong enough that he placed second in the long jump at the Big Ten track and field meet a few weeks ago.
Carter jumped a personal best 25'4" at the meet and thinks that all concerns about his knee can finally be put to rest (if they weren't already during spring ball).
"I feel good, I'm definitely 100 percent," Carter told Bucknuts.com. "I actually feel stronger than ever. I re-habbed both legs hard. I did a lot of re-hab on the smaller leg muscles that you don't usually do in the weight room and that has helped me out a lot."
Carter only played one year of football in high school (Solon), but made the most of it. He caught 33 balls for 890 yards and 13 touchdowns. He redshirted his first year at OSU, but then cracked the two-deep the following season and had six catches for 75 yards.
He was expected to be a starter last year, but then came the ACL injury.
"That was difficult — I've sat out two of my three years here," Carter said.
Now that he's back, Carter plans on having a big year. But with so many good receivers on the team and with Jim Tressel's ball-control offense, will there be enough opportunities to shine?
"I think Coach Tressel knows that we have a pretty deep receiving corps and he knows that we can produce. We proved it all of spring camp and we proved it last fall — even though I was injured, we had some guys step up and show what we can do. I think (having this many receivers) is a good thing and there will be plenty of chances for us."
Carter is one of the few Buckeye wideouts from Ohio. Returning starters Chris Vance (6-2, 180, Sr.) and Mike Jenkins (6-4, 200, Jr.) are both from Florida, as are up-and-coming star Chris Gamble (6-2, 180, So.) and incoming freshman Santonio Holmes (5-11, 180). What does Carter think of all these Florida imports?
"We always have arguments back-and-forth talking about who has the better athletes," he said with a laugh. "No, we really don't care if the Ohio guys
stand out, or the Florida guys stand out. We just want to stand out as a group."
SPENCER SPEAKS HIS MIND
Running backs coach Tim Spencer thinks the Buckeye offense will be improved this year. But he didn't hold back his thoughts on what the strength of the team will be.
"It will be an interesting year for our offense," Spencer said. "We have another year under our belts and I think we'll be improved over last year. I feel very good about our quarterback situation and we have a young guy coming in that will add to the mix. Our line is getting healthy and we're pretty good at receiver and running back.
"But, to be quite honest, the strength of our team without a doubt will be the defense. A guy like Will Smith (6-4, 255, Jr.), we were trying to figure out a hundred different ways to try and block that young man this spring. I think that Will is going to come into his own this year. We have a great defensive line, we have Matt Wilhelm (6-5, 245, Sr.), Mike Doss (5-11, 203, Sr.), Donnie Nickey (6-3, 215, Sr.). I mean, we have some leaders there — guys that can lead our team to bigger and better things."
With four talented young tailbacks to turn to, is Spencer worried that he won't be able to keep all of them happy?
"You know, I really don't worry about trying to keep everyone happy. To me, it's no different than when I came in. I think what these young guys need to understand is... you know, when I came in, you had to earn your spurs so to speak. Some of these guys need to understand that if you want to get on the field, you need to play special teams, fullback, whatever is asked of you. But, I don't worry about trying to keep everyone happy because we are going to put the best player on the field. If you are making plays, you are going to be out there," Spencer said.
Spencer played for the Buckeyes from 1979-82 and is third on the school's career rushing list with 3,553 yards (behind Archie Griffin and Eddie George). Some fans think he is such a good coach because he played not that long ago and can relate to the younger generation. Well, Spencer isn't sure he relates all that well to the young pups.
"Everybody wants everything now. You get on the computer, it's now. Everything is now. Guys don't understand the work and sacrifice it takes to
get where you want to go. Guys come in and say that they want to be the man, but only a few of them are willing to do the work it takes."
BUCKEYES LITTER WORTHINGTON SUMMER LEAGUE
The Worthington Summer League is one of the top summer hoops leagues in the midwest. As usual, several Buckeyes will be playing in the WSL this year. Most of the OSU players are split between two teams — DSW Shoes and Buckeye Corner.
The DSW team will be coached by former Buckeye player and current radio analyst Ronnie Stokes. The roster includes former Buckeyes Michael Redd and Brian Brown, as well as Terence Dials, Brandon Fuss-Cheatham, Shun Jenkins and JJ Sullinger (who is from Worthington).
The Buckeye Corner team is led by coach/player Scoonie Penn and also boasts Velimir Radinovic, Matt Marinchick and Tony Stockman. Sean Connolly and Matt Sylvester are listed on the EA Sports roster, but Sylvester is expected to miss the league while recovering from a broken hand.
Brent Darby, Zach Williams, Ryan Heflin and Shaun Smith will also be playing in the WSL (all rosters have not been announced yet). Darby was the league's leading scorer last summer with a 29.1 average.
To give you an idea of how the NCAA treats these summer leagues, only two "current" players from a college team can play on the same team together during the summer. "Current" players means only those players who were on OSU's roster last year. Therefore, looking at the DSW squad, Dials and Fuss-Cheatham are considered current players, while transfers like Jenkins and Sullinger are not.
Incoming freshmen Ricardo Billings and Charles Bass are planning to play in the WSL, but each have issues with their standardized test scores. Billings is currently awaiting a test score and will join the DSW team if he qualifies. Bass apparently already earned a high enough score on his test, but a mix up at his school voided the score. A guess? Both of these guys will qualify.
And by the way, the ever-growing Bass is up to 6-foot-10. Because of his growth spurt (was 6-foot-1 as a freshman), Bass will have to undergo minor
surgery on both knees this summer. So, he will probably be redshirted anyway.