Nearly three months after the freshman starter was ruled ineligible for the Rose Bowl and subsequently kept out of team-related activities for all of winter quarter, Carter said he is on track to rejoin the team in time for spring practice to get underway.
"I'm working hard and studying hard," he said Sunday at a team charity event. "I've got finals coming up. The classes aren't really hard, it's just me getting my priorities straight and being early to class and studying."
Carter's current workload of two English classes, a math course and one he called a student development class will wrap up during the week of March 15. Spring break follows the following week and classes begin March 29 – just in time for the April 1 start of spring practice.
Until then, Carter will continue working out with OSU director of strength and conditioning Doug Davis to stay in shape until he is back with his teammates.
"I've been working a lot on my core strength with Coach Davis," Carter said. "We're coming back into the season a lot more prepared and ready, a lot stronger and faster. "
Carter said he was never worried that he would not eventually be allowed to rejoin the team.
"It really brings you back down to earth," Carter said. "Playing during the season you get hyped up with the fans and the crowd. I didn't stay focused. I messed up on my own and didn't focus on different things. I'm glad to be back at Ohio State. I didn't want to leave or anything."
His father, Cris, also had troubles during his career as an OSU receiver, and the two have talked about the situation. The younger Carter said his father told him to simply keep his eyes focused on what was in front of him and not to dwell on the past.
As a freshman, Carter emerged as the No. 4 wide receiver when the Buckeyes wanted to spread the field. He finished with 13 catches for 176 yards and his first career touchdown in the process.
"Really the game was a lot faster at first and as the season went on it became slower," he said. "I made a couple crucial drops and I have to work on that. Hopefully I can come back and be a better player."
But when the Buckeyes were facing Oregon in the Rose Bowl, Carter was watching the game back home. Rather than be disappointed about his own situation, he said he was primarily excited by the offensive attack he saw on his television screen.
"It was pretty tough, but I was more excited knowing everybody on the team and knowing what type of play we were going to run," he said. "It was great."
Whether he grabs hold of a starting position this season will be up to the coaches, Carter said, but that is not on his list of primary goals. Asked to list them, he said, "Just to maintain a 3.0 in college. That's what I'm focused. Football is to the side. I'm a student athlete.
"I wouldn't want to be in that situation again. I'm turning over a new leaf."