The son of former OSU legend Cris Carter has been battling academic issues from the time he arrived last fall. He missed the Rose Bowl this past January after he was ruled academically ineligible following fall quarter at Ohio State.
After catching 13 passes for 176 yards and one touchdown as a freshman during the regular season, the Fort Lauderdale product was forced to watch from home as his teammates dismantled Oregon 26-17 in Pasadena.
Carter remained separated from the team during winter workouts, but was expected to return to the football field for spring practice in April. Instead, the Buckeyes broke for camp with Carter, and linebacker Jonathan Newsome, nowhere to be found.
“I’m not sure that he’ll be back practicing football this spring,” OSU Head Coach Jim Tressel said after the first practice.
“He’s back here (at Ohio State) this spring, but I’m not certain that he’ll be out here practicing football.”
Newsome returned to football in the spring after getting his academic affairs in order. Carter did not. He made an appearance at the annual Scarlet and Gray Spring Game in Ohio Stadium, but only as a spectator wearing a Toronto Blue Jays hat while sitting in the front row.
He could choose to return to Ohio State in June of 2011, assuming he can get his academic issues corrected in the next year. Wherever the St. Thomas Aquinas product ends up, he will have three years of eligibility remaining, but if that image of Carter in the Blue Jays hat is his lasting one at Ohio State then his career was even more tragic and brief than his fathers.
The second-leading pass catcher in school history (168) behind only David Boston (191), Cris Carter was also the first player in Ohio State history to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a season when he grabbed a then school-record 69 passes for 1,127 yards as a junior in 1986. Those incredible numbers followed up his 58-catch, 950-yard sophomore season at Ohio State, but Carter would never see his senior season in Columbus.
Just before the year, it was discovered that Carter had secretly signed with sports agent Norby Walters, and was thus ruled ineligible for his senior year. Carter was forced to go the supplemental draft route, where he was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round. Without him, the Buckeyes went 6-4-1 in 1987, and coach Earle Bruce was fired at the end of the season.
The 2010 Buckeyes should be in much better shape without Duron than the ’87 team was without Cris, but the younger Carter was expected to assume the role of No. 3 receiver behind veterans DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher.
Without Carter in the spring, the Buckeyes turned to senior Taurian Washington to assume the third receiver role, one that he lost last fall after starting the season-opener against Navy. Once again he rewarded them with a fine performance in the spring game, grabbing a pair of long touchdowns, including the game-winner in the final minute.
“I knew it was going to happen because T-Wash is a spring game legend around here,” Sanzenbacher said during the spring.
“There was no denying that he was going to get into the end zone.”
Competing with Washington for that spot this fall will be redshirt freshman Chris Fields and senior Grant Schwartz along with incoming 6-foot-6 freshman Tyrone Williams.