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Carrico headed to NCAA D3 powerhouse Mount Union

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ All-Ohio senior football standout Garrett Carrico signed a national letter-of-intent with the University of Mount Union Purple Raiders. Attending the signing ceremony were his family members. Seated from left to right are father Gary Carrico, Garrett, and mother Shelley Carrico. Standing is his brother, Reid Carrico. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

The label might say NCAA Division III, but the marquee headliner says the Mount Union Purple Raiders.
And looking for a starring role and a chance to see his name in lights is Ironton Fighting Tigers senior Garrett Carrico.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound football standout is heading for one of the premier small college programs in the country after signing a letter-of-intent with Mount Union.
“I don’t think people don’t realize how competitive it is. A lot of people think D3 and think ‘Aw, it’s just Division 3.’ But you go and watch a game and you’re surprised. There’s some good, good ballplayers who play at that level. They fill the stands up,” said Carrico.
There were other suitors but Mount Union won out in the end.
“Ohio Dominican was a big one. I also looked at West Virginia State, Ohio Wesleyan and Marietta,” said Carrico.
He said he settled on Mount Union because, “It reminded me a lot of home, the town and the tradition.”
Speaking of tradition, the Purple Raiders won their 13th NCAA Division III national championship last season.
Under the legendary Larry Kehres and now his son and current head coach Vince Kehres, the program has a record 112-game winning streak in non-playoff games and hold the NCAA record with a 55-game winning streak that broke their own record of 54 consecutive victories.
A versatile player, Carrico has played running back, defensive back, wide receiver and even some quarterback for Ironton.
The Purple Raiders starting strong safety graduates and Carrico will get an opportunity to compete immediately. He was a Division V All-Ohio defensive back the past two seasons including a third team selection last season.
“They want me to play a strong safety, kind of like an outside linebacker. The good thing about me is I’ve played almost everywhere. So, if I get up there and something doesn’t look right, I can transition to something else. But they want me as a safety right now,” said Carrico.
“I’ve got a good chance my freshman year. Definitely special teams and maybe some playing time toward the end of the year.”
Carrico understands there will be a quite a change stepping up to the college level from high school.
“I expect it to be about like a job. It’s going to be a lot less free time. When I’m not working out, I’ll probably be studying. If I’m not studying, I’ll be working out or at practice. It’s not going to be much free time,” said Carrico.
Besides football, Carrico enjoys playing baseball. He is a pitcher and infielder for the Fighting Tigers.
Although he began playing football in the second grade, he started playing baseball when he was five. He has a great-great uncle, Earl Webb, who played eight seasons in the major leagues with five different teams and had a .306 career batting average. His 67 doubles for the Boston Red Sox in 1931 remains a Major League Baseball record.
“I thought about trying to play baseball up there, but I’m not for sure yet. Probably not my freshman year. I’ll probably see how things go and then maybe if I can I’ll try to get on the team,” said Carrico.
Even though Carrico enjoys both sports, he said football is his first love.
“The biggest factor would probably be Friday Night Lights. Just the feeling of playing a football game or the feeling after winning. I don’t think there is any other sport that gives you that feeling,” said Carrico.
Garrett — who plans to major in economics and minor in pre-law — is the son of Gary and Shelley Carrico of Ironton. His brother, Reid, is a freshman and also plays for Ironton.