Ohio State wide receiver Duron Carter turned plenty of heads in 2009, becoming a rare freshman starter for the Buckeyes, and having a solid season.
Carter, son of former Buckeye and NFL great Cris Carter, was also ruled academically ineligible for the Rose Bowl. In this interview, Carter answers the tough questions about what went wrong, and how he is taking steps to ensure this never happens again.
It should also be noted that Carter initiated the phone call that led to this interview, and it was entirely his decision to come forward to clear the air.
Greene: What was the reason behind you calling me to do this interview? Carter: "I want everyone to know I'm not running from my mistake with my grades. I feel I owe it to the Ohio State fans to let them know I'm doing really well now, and I will be glad to be back next season. And I appreciate all the support I've received from our fans."
Greene: What were your first thoughts when you found out you were ineligible to play in the Rose Bowl? Carter: "I was devastated. I was passing all my classes right up to my finals, and my final test scores were terrible. Stan Jefferson came to me with my grades, and also the news that I wouldn't be able to play in the Rose Bowl. I was surprised and shocked at first, but once reality set in, it really hurt. I was basically speechless, and I didn't know what to think."
Greene: Was it worse for you, being the son of a former Buckeye legend like Cris Carter, than it would be for any other player? Carter: "Not at all. This would be embarrassing for any player, and this was my problem, not my dad's. It was both hurtful, and embarrassing for me. I was the first player at Ohio State in a couple years to have this happen, and that would have been horrible for any player on this team."
Greene: We've spoken a lot over the past few years, and I know intelligence is not the problem. How could this happen to someone who did so well academically at St. Thomas Aquinas? Carter: "I did have a high GPA at St. Thomas, and my ACT score was high. This happened because I didn't manage my time as well as I should have, and I didn't spend enough time studying. I hung out with friends, and spent too much time goofing off, instead of where I needed to be. That's the biggest difference between then and now, is how I spend my time."
Greene: What changes have you made to improve your time management decisions, and how you conduct your business? Carter: "I have a set schedule now for everything in my life, both study time and working out. For me, it's all about focusing on what I need to do, and getting it done. I'm not missing any classes, and I'm turning my assignments in on time. I plan on getting through this, and being ready for spring football. My study habits will stay with me the rest of my time at Ohio State, and this will never happen again."
Greene: If your grades improve enough to meet Ohio State's standards, will you be back on the team for spring football for certain? Carter: "Yes sir, once I get my grades, I will be back 100%. Right now, I can't work out with the team, but I am working out on my own, following the same program all the guys are. I'm doing all the same things the guys are, but I'm by myself, and it's not team oriented."
Greene: Does being separated from your teammates fuel your fire even more to get back with the group? Carter: Definitely. I don't feel a part of the team right now, and I just want to get back and be a part of everything again. I just want to get back running around with my friends, and having fun with them again, because we are a very tight team. I do miss that a lot."
Greene: Aside from the Rose Bowl disappointment, how would characterize your freshman season? Carter: "I think things were really good, and I did some good things. I did have a couple dropped balls that I should have caught, but I think I played pretty well. I need to work harder, and be a better player next year for Ohio State. I want to improve my focus on the field too, and stay in the moment all the time. I need to get stronger to be more of a physical receiver, and out-fight defensive backs for the football, and break tackles."
Greene: How would you describe your relationship with your teammates in general, and Terrelle Pryor specifically? Carter: "I have a great relationship with Terrelle, and we definitely are on the same page. Terrelle called me down in Florida a lot, to check up on me, and see how I was doing, when I was home during bowl practice. All my teammates were great, and I appreciate their support. We are a family at Ohio State, and we lift each other up when we have problems. It's the same with our coaching staff. Coach (Jim) Tressel has been great to me, as has been my position coach, Darrell Hazell. Coach Hazell and I speak almost every day, and he was the main reason I came to Ohio State. Our relationship is still strong, and he checks up on my workouts, and my grades, every day."
Greene: Where did you watch the Rose Bowl, and how did that feel? Carter: "I watched it in Orlando, because we were there watching my younger sister in a soccer tournament. I watched it at my uncle's house, and it was kind of sad at first. Once the game got going, I really got into it, because I knew the plays we were going to run, and I was cheering like I was there with the team. I was screaming like crazy during the game, and I called guys after the game. I talked to Devier Posey, Taurien Washington and Jermale Hines, and I tried to celebrate with them the best I could. Being sad about not playing was more before the game, because once it started, I just wanted us to win so bad, that I forgot about my problems."
Greene: In closing, is there anything you want to say to Ohio State fans, or your teammates and coaches? Carter: "I just want to say how sorry I am that I let everyone down, and I promise it will NEVER happen again. I'm back."