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BOGACZYK: Carter Finds Home for Hometown Team

April 5, 2015

By JACK BOGACZYK

HERDZONE.COM COLUMNIST

            HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- It's not just a nod to the Easter season that Cody Carter plays like the Energizer bunny for Marshall football. The redshirt junior plays that way all of the time.

            "He just keeps running," Herd defensive coordinator and secondary coach Chuck Heater said after the Herd's spring practice Friday. "He makes plays."

            Carter made a name on special teams for the nationally ranked, 13-1 Herd last season, after sitting out 2013 following his transfer from the University of Charleston. What makes it sweeter for Carter is that he's now playing for the college team he wanted to be with all the time.

            "I grew up following Marshall football, was a fan," said Carter, who is from Barboursville and starred at Cabell Midland High. "It was a little discouraging at first to not get an offer here, and the only  offer I had was from UC.

            "I could have walked on here, but there was no scholarship offer. It was, `Hey, I've got a scholarship to a Division II team, so I'll take that.' Everything just worked out from there."


 

 

            As a freshman in 2012, Carter played on special teams in all 11 games for a 9-2 Golden Eagles' team that was ranked No. 25. He also saw time in five games as a backup in the UC secondary. But Carter said he still wanted to play major college football somewhere.

            "I knew in my mind and heart that I could prove to everybody that I knew enough to play for a Division I team -- actually play -- and with one that was my hometown team, Marshall," said Carter, who was the top preseason-ranked prospect in the state prior to his 2011 CMHS senior year. "I got my release and I had no idea where I wanted to go, but Coach (Mark) Gale (MU's football operations director) gave me a call and offered me the chance to walk-on, and here I am.

            "I just come out now, go hard, go 110 percent, and coaches and teammates notice that, and that's how I'm getting on the field right now."

            The 5-foot-9, 177-pound Carter played last season on the Herd's kickoff and punt teams on both sides of the ball. He played through bumps and bruises until he was sidelined following a crunching hit in Marshall's home win over Rice in mid-November.

            That play hasn't deterred Carter, 21, one bit.

            "We love him on special teams; he makes a lot of plays," Heater said. "He's had a few injuries that just wore him out and he wasn't able to practice at some points during the season and really couldn't quite finish the season he wanted to.

            "But Cody's a very good player. Now, he's getting reps at (field) safety and he's playing pretty well. He made a couple interceptions (last Friday). He's just a good football player. On special teams, he goes really hard, with correct angles, like a blur sometimes, because he wants to make the play.

            "He runs faster than some other guys who aren't sure they want to make the play. So, he appears kind of quick, kind of fast, uses his body. He's kind of a reckless guy, and not everybody's about that."

            Heater said it doesn't take long to tell if an erstwhile Division II player can make it on the bigger stage.

            "Well, some guys look like Division II players and don't look like they belong here," Heater said. "He does not look like he doesn't belong here. He didn't belong there (in Division II). He looks like he probably should have been somewhere like Marshall, frankly.

            "He's a very functional player, plays really hard. He's one of those guys who's easy to overlook. He's a little guy -- they get overlooked all of the time. But in reality, they show up many, many times, and he's one of those guys where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts."

            What he's doing now is very different from his years down U.S. 60 in Ona.

            As a Cabell Midland High senior, Carter was a Class AAA All-State first team choice as a utility player on offense. For the Knights' state playoff quarterfinal team, he rushed 150 times for 1,213 yards and scored 20 touchdowns, and had five interceptions as a defensive back.

            That was then. A season later, Carter said he learned the hows and whys of playing on all special teams at UC and has tried to use that experience for the Herd, for whom he remains a walk-on.

            "I was on every special team at UC, too, and that was a whole year of learning," he said. "You get used to that, how to be on special teams, what to do, how you play it, and I took that and translated it to here.

            "Football at this level is obviously faster and people are a lot stronger and a lot more athletic. Everybody here is on scholarship, so you're running against the best of the best. You have a couple of walk-ons who can pop through the holes, and that's where I am right now.

            "My main goal is to play on every single special team, and get into the rotation at safety to help out."

            Carter, a sports management major, had nine tackles (four solos) for the Herd last season. He said he prepped for that by using smarts, speed and skill during his transfer sit-out year.

            "When I was sitting out, I was on every scout team," Carter said. "I wanted to show what I could do. The only way to open eyes is to go your hardest every day, and coaches noticed that. I felt like I could be an asset on special teams, because I could run down there just as hard as I can, go to the ball."

            As Heater said, special teams aren't for everyone. Carter understands, but he loves being able to make an impact in more ways than one.

            "I guess kickoff is my favorite (special team) because you just run down there 100 miles per hour," he said. "I'm toward the middle (of the kickoff formation), the hitter, the missile. I run straight for the return man, fast as I can, and hit somebody.

            "You're running through double teams, and people are trying to blindside me, so I've got to keep my eyes open, keep my head on a swivel.

            "Being on special teams, you've got to be really ... uh ... a little crazy in the mind with the hard hitting, running down there and giving everything. It's all about being tough."

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