While a disappointing 2009 season was hard for most members of the CSU Rams football team, it was just a little harder for Raymond Carter.
Carter, a running back, had to sit out the entire season last year due to NCAA transfer rules and could only watch as his teammates lost nine straight games to end the season en route to a 3-9 record. Now, fully eligible to play, Carter is ready to go and already making his mark in CSUâ€™s backfield.
Carter, a 6-foot, 212-pound junior, said sitting on the sidelines last season was not an easy task.
â€œI knew I had to sit out, but it was hard just seeing what the team went through last year and knowing I couldnâ€™t do anything to contribute or help the team win,â€ he said. â€œI just had to remain patient and wait for my turn this season.â€
Carter transferred to the Rams after spending his freshman year with the UCLA Bruins. During that season, he carried the ball 25 times for 29 yards and a touchdown. Carter was recruited by a number of big name schools including USC, Arizona and even Notre Dame as he was ranked No. 3 all-purpose back by Rivals.com from the class of 2007.
CSU running back coach Anthoney Hill was with Carter during his required time away from the field and said he told the 21-year-old to use the adversity to his advantage.
â€œHe was chomping at the bit,â€ Hill said. â€œI talked to him about that during the time he sat out and said, â€˜Man, you have to just be as hungry as can be.â€™ We knew he was going to be ready to be unleashed when he came out here. He has been.â€
Carter said he followed Hillâ€™s advice, and itâ€™s paid off so far.
â€œI got more anxious about it,â€ Carter said about waiting to play meaningful football again. â€œEvery game I was getting more and more excited to get ready to play the next year. I remained patient about it, but at the same time, I was getting excited because my time was coming.â€
Carter appears to have carried his excitement through to this spring and is proving it by having an impressive camp. So far, the Rams have given the California native steady reps alongside more experienced players while showing off his versatility. Carter will bust a run up the middle one play and then catch a 20-yard pass down field the next.
Hill said Carter is a guy the Rams have to find playing time for.
â€œHeâ€™s a home run hitter,â€ Hill said. â€œAnytime he touches it, he can go. That type of thing is very valuable to a team, and you just have to find a way to get the ball in his hands. When you have a guy like that, you have to highlight what he does and put him in situations he can succeed.â€
Even with his obvious talents, Carter is still facing a CSU backfield heavy with competition and hasnâ€™t yet earned a starting spot. Alongside 2009 standouts John Mosure, Leonard Mason and Lou Greenwood, Carter is competing with redshirt freshman Chris Nwoke.
Carter acknowledged that he respects and likes his fellow running backs, but said thereâ€™s no doubt this spring is a competition.
â€œEven though weâ€™re working together, it is still a competition out here,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s spring ball and everyone is trying to earn a spot. The RBâ€™s are close. We try and better each other and help each other out with stuff. Weâ€™re still one, but itâ€™s a competition and we all have the same goal of being the guy.â€
Rams head coach Steve Fairchild said heâ€™s liked what heâ€™s seen from Carter this spring, but said most the running backs CSU has have their own unique talents that merit playing time.
â€œThey are all a little bit different and all very talented,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™ll keep working through how we get them all the ball.â€
Facing uncertainty of exactly what his role on the Rams will be once fall season hits, Carter said heâ€™s confident if he works hard, good things will happen.
â€œI bring hard work. I go hard every play,â€ he said. â€œAs long as Iâ€™m working hard, then the result of the play will speak for itself.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com.