Duron Carter nearly dropped the ball on his father's old team.
The Minnesota Vikings were looking to give Duron, the son of Vikings great Cris Carter, a chance to fulfill his NFL aspirations. But Duron nearly chose the Baltimore Ravens instead of the Vikings, he admitted after his first rookie minicamp practice in Minnesota.
As with so many of the other receivers in the team's rookie minicamp this weekend, position coach George Stewart made the difference.
"It was really 50-50. Coach Stewart was the one that got me to come here. He said he wanted me to come work with him," Duron said. "You know he has a history with great receivers with T.O. (Terrell Owens in San Francisco) and Roddy White and I'm just glad to be a part of the association."
He nearly ruined his chance at any association with the NFL.
The 6-foot-3 receiver struggled with academics throughout his college career that spanned four schools because he couldn't stay eligible, despite his father telling USA TODAY that Duron has an IQ in excess of 130 and received a 28 on the practice Wonderlic test he took.
"He didn't commit a crime, he has no tattoos, he has no kids, and he's a pleasant kid. His thing is he hates school, though," Cris told USA TODAY. "And I'm his dad. He's really bright; he's got an IQ over 130. He just hates school."
Apparently it doesn't matter which school either. Duron started out at Cris' alma mater, Ohio State. There he caught 13 passes for the Buckeyes in 2009 before being ruled academically ineligible prior to their Rose Bowl game.
He transferred to Coffeyville Community College, where he had 44 catches for 690 yards and 10 touchdowns. Then it was on to Alabama, where he never played a down because of academic issues, and the same story at Florida Atlantic, his final college stop.
In all, Duron Carter played only nine games in college and obviously didn't click with the quarterback at his most productive stop.
"The team that drafts Duron Carter will get the most lazy, whiny & non-work ethic player the nfl has ever seen," tweeted Cayden Cochran, Coffeyville's starting quarterback during Duron's season there. "I played w/him. Horrible person & will be a complete cancer to any team on the board."
When asked by a fan on Twitter about Cochran's comments, Duron said they weren't true. "People always try to bring u down to their level," he tweeted.
The Vikings were much more gracious in their assessment of him after his first practice.
"He's got great size. I mean, that sticks out. He has good hands and moves well," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "We'll see how he does throughout this weekend. He had a good first practice. We'll see what he does the rest of the weekend."
Duron is with the Vikings on only a tryout basis, one of 34 rookies in that situation this weekend, the vast majority of them longshots to gain a paycheck.
Duron at least found some familiar surroundings Friday. He grew up in Minnesota when Cris was building his Hall of Fame résumé with the Vikings.
"Being back in Eden Prairie, this is where I grew up half of my life. Knowing Minnesota, helping all the guys around, I know the mall and everything, but being back here is great," Duron said. "I'm pretty sure Coach Stewart brought me in here to be an impact or to help the Vikings out and that's what I'm here to do."
He got off to a rough start, dropping several passes thrown his way early in his first practice, but he settled in and looked more comfortable for the remainder of the morning session and then again in Friday's second practice.
"I was kind of nervous out there. I dropped my first three balls. I got back into it; hopefully I can get more. I'm about to go to the JUGS machine right now and just get better," he said.
While the comparisons between father and son will be inevitable, as much of a stretch as that may be, Duron said his father gave him some advice.
"Just be myself. You can't be Cris Carter," he said. "I can only be Duron Carter."
He'll have this weekend to try to prove that Duron Carter deserves an NFL contract.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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