February 25, 2011

Carter adds much-needed body to line

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Jim Bollman isn't easily deterred.

And the offensive coordinator showed that early this month on National Signing Day when the offensive line group Ohio State brought in didn't look exactly like what Bollman and the staff hoped it would.

A year after missing out on mega-prospect Seantrel Henderson, the Buckeyes saw highly-coveted offensive lineman Aundrey Walker choose USC this year despite going to an Ohio State pipeline in Cleveland Glenville High School.

"We were headed in the number of four or five (offensive linemen in the class). We're a little bit short here at the moment," Bollman said shortly after introducing Ohio State's latest recruiting class on National Signing Day. "We'll see how things evolve and develop. But that's something that we'll have to see here shortly how things develop."

Ohio State had already signed three offensive linemen in the class in Brian Bobek, Antonio Underwood, and Tommy Brown, but Bollman was eluding to a situation involving Chris Carter, a committed offensive line prospect out of Cleveland John F. Kennedy High School.

Carter - a 6-foot-6, 350-pound offensive guard - was expected to sign with the aforementioned players on Signing Day, but just like Walker's signature on a national letter of intent, Carter's was nowhere to be found.

That's because Carter had spent the night before signing day in jail on allegations of sexual imposition. On Feb. 7, Cleveland police said there wasn't enough evidence to charge Carter with any crime.

All the while, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel never took Carter's scholarship off the table, and the offensive lineman signed with the Buckeyes on Thursday despite a long delay that lasted nearly three weeks.

"We are excited Chris will be a Buckeye," Tressel said in a statement released Thursday evening. "He has had a great support system at home, as well as at his high school. They truly believe that Chris will have great success on and off the field at Ohio State."

How soon Carter will have a positive effect on the Buckeyes still remains to be seen, but there's no question the big body will already give a boost to Bollman and the offensive linemen in fall camp.

That's because Bollman's offensive line group is incredibly thin, as the team had returns only seven scholarship players from the position group from last year. Ohio State said goodbye to seniors Justin Boren and Bryant Browning and Sam Longo transferred out of the program after last season.

"We only have seven guys returning, but they're seven pretty good guys. So we've got to mix and mash," Bollman said. "They've got to be able to play different positions. If one guy gets a nick, they've got to be able to get in there and do this and that. So, then see where some of these guys might be able to jump in the mix."

Bollman acknowledged the Buckeyes would have to find a contingency plan if Carter didn't sign, which Ohio State seemingly took steps in doing before Carter's official signing on Thursday.

Ohio State helped add to the numbers on the offensive line when bringing in Graham Glasgow as a preferred walk-on. Glasgow - who also was hearing from Wisconsin and Minnesota with similar offers to Ohio State - comes from Aurora, Ill., and is 6-foot-7, 300-pound offensive lineman.

Glasgow is a raw specimen, but his immense size and athleticism gives him the potential to develop into a key player for Ohio State in the future. It is a chance Ohio State was certainly willing to take.

Though it may not seem like the right answer for the Buckeyes on the surface, Bollman said players like Glasgow have made an incredible impact on the team on an annual basis.

"Every year since we've been here there's been a guy who came here as a walk-on who was kind of a major piece to the puzzle," said OSU Offensive Coordinator Jim Bollman, who coaches the offensive line for Jim Tressel. "Scott Sika being the guy last year. Before that was Andrew Moses and Michael Knee, and on and on."

But the Carter signing cannot go unnoticed, especially given Ohio State could be facing some tough numbers depth-wise in the future. Though Carter will face an uphill battle to even crack the 2-deep his freshman season, it does give Ohio State some breathing room in the future.

Though the Buckeyes return seven scholarship guys, Mike Adams will miss the first five games while serving a suspension.

Ohio State will get back Marcus Hall, who redshirted last season to focus on academic issues, but the depth at the position is lacking.

The team likely won't need Carter for anything other than a depth provider this season, but injuries happen often on the offensive line.

Carter won't change Ohio State's plans for recruiting the position in next year's class, but if anything he can at least provide the team with much needed depth - particulalry in practice - next year.

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.


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