The offseason doesn’t differentiate much across the country. From Washington State to Miami, Texas to Ohio State and at mid-tier programs in between, the summer months are spent on gelling as units and team bonding.
Chris Carter’s offseason was decidedly different. He was at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center along with his teammates, but his routine also consisted of losing weight – lots of it.
When fans catch a glimpse of No. 72 come Aug. 31, the figure, outlined in hues of scarlet and gray, will be unrecognizable. Carter has shed the weight of a small child since he arrived at Ohio State. The 400-plus pound behemoth is down to 341.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, the same can be said for getting Carter into playing shape. But you won’t find a more humble and thankful individual.
“You stray from the path every once in a while, but it’s very hard,” Carter said. “It’s been a two-year process for me to be where I am now. If it were easy, everyone would do it.”
The weight disappeared by altering his eating habits and undergoing a rigorous workout regimen.
During his senior year at John F. Kennedy High School in Cleveland, Carter, then an offensive lineman, weighed 380 pounds. It didn’t slow down his progression, though; he was rated at one of the top guards in the nation. Carter was also a second-team all-state selection and the MVP of the Senate League.
But he was arrested one day before National Signing Day, in 2011, for suspicion of sexual imposition after he was accused of fondling girls while pretending to measure them for ROTC uniforms. The charges were dropped a week later and Carter signed with the Buckeyes at a later date in February.
Another setback came when he enrolled at Ohio State. Carter weighed more than 400 pounds, leading to a redshirt season. When Meyer was hired, Carter’s name was thrown around as a transfer candidate. Instead, he took the recommendations from nutritionist Sarah Wick, strength coach Mickey Marotti and other support staff personnel and acted on them.
“They worked me to the point where I couldn’t walk down stairs.”
“She’s like my step-mother,” Carter said of Wick. “She’s been integral in me getting my weight right. We confer on what I should and shouldn’t eat from a calorie and nutritional standpoint. She has played a very meaningful role in my current situation and health.
“One of my major road blocks was my health and cardiovascular level, which I give all the props and credit to Coach Mick, Coach [Kenny] Parker, and Coach [Anthony] Schlegel, especially. They worked me to the point where I couldn’t walk down stairs. They were able to encourage me and get this moment in sight, where I can trot out that tunnel and do something on the team. But it all rested upon me.”
Meyer gave Carter an ultimatum: weigh more than 340 pounds, and you won’t play for Ohio State. Carter, who has since moved to the defensive line, is still over that mark, but he should be below it once the season starts. Meyer and defensive line coach Mike Vrabel have discovered how good a competitor Carter is. He’s been a factor on defense during fall camp, working his way into the interior D-line rotation.
“It’s rewarding,” Carter said, “but even more rewarding is knowing I have teammates that will be able to depend on me. They know I’ve been working and have shown I want to be here and make an impact. That will make all of us work harder. It’s a chain.”
And then there is graduate assistant Vince Oghobaase, who works primarily with the defensive line. The former Duke standout is in his first season at Ohio State and has quickly made his presence felt. Attend a practice and it’s difficult not to hear his booming voice.
“I’ve had a huge change in my technique. [Oghobaase] is very vocal and has tons of knowledge playing on the interior,” Carter said. “He and Coach Vrabel are like yin and yang. It’s a perfect balance of inside hand tricks and speed from the outside.”
On the field, Carter has improved footwork thanks to his newfound slenderness. Trying to move around and navigate opposing linemen when you weigh 400 pounds is not recommended, unless you’re a Sumo wrestler. His lifestyle is improved away from football, as well. Carter suffers from sleep apnea, a condition that has seen dramatic improvements since his weight loss.
Good thing, too. Amid all the excitement for the coming season is the reality of fall camp. There’s little time to rest when a national championship is on the menu. But that objective is still far into the future.
“Camp is always going to be intense,” Carter said. “We aren’t concentrating on what’s down the line. We’re looking forward to the next day and improving tomorrow. That’s been the concentration and tempo of where we are trying to go.”