The Buck(eyes) stop here to sign Ironton’s Carrico
When the national signing day comes, college football coaches get nervous as they worry a verbal recruit might have second thoughts and flip schools at the last minute.
When the Ohio State Buckeyes letter-of-intent arrived in Ironton awaiting the signature of Ironton Fighting Tigers three-time All-Ohio linebacker Reid Carrico, it was quickly signed, sealed and delivered.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Carrico gave a verbal commitment last fall to the Buckeyes and — as is the case with his character — he was true to his word when he applied his autograph during Wednesday’s 2 p.m. signing day ceremony.
“It’s thrilling. I’ve been waiting on this day since I committed during my junior year. Just the feeling of being part of it officially now is a good feeling for sure,” said Carrico.
“It’s definitely a weight off my shoulders. It’s been a long time coming, a lot of questions, a lot of interviews, all the hype and everything. It’s almost a breath of fresh air to go up there and as a nobody again. I don’t mind talking to you guys (local media). I like thing I’m pretty good at talking to you guys. It really means a lot to my family and me. Today is a big day.”
Carrico plans to move into his dormitory Jan. 7 after enrolling in the Ohio State spring semester which will allow him to participate in spring practice.
“The semester doesn’t start until the 11th, but I’m going to get up there and try to get acclimated,” said Carrico who is continuing to work out with the football team.
But Carrico knows there is going to be a large learning curve as he steps up to the Division I level with one of college football’s premier programs.
“I just think it’s going to be great. I can’t sit here and tell you that I know exactly what it’s all going to be like because it’s all going to be foreign to me for the first year probably. I’d say after the first year everything will start to settle down as far as the practice and the schedule waking up early in the morning,” said Carrico who plans to major in mechanical engineering.
“The first year I expect that to be the roughest part of it, just getting used to it, the big city life and stuff like that. I’m going to see buildings up there that are five times taller than anything we’ve got here in Ironton.”
Although Carrico will be moving from one town to a big city and one program to another, he said the lessons he has learned at Ironton have laid the foundation for whatever lies ahead.
“I think the biggest thing this town gave me was a love for football and hard work. I think that’s the biggest thing I got from this town. as far as the people, the fans, teammates, coaches, all that stuff. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ll take up there with me and those things there will help me be successful and I don’t imagine that will change the next four years.”
During his senior season, the speedy Carrico rushed 164 times f or 1,544 yards — a 9.4 yards per carry average — and he scored 25 touchdowns. He also caught 12 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns including the game-winning 23-yard catch-and-run against Cincinnati Roger Bacon that vaulted the Fighting Tigers into the state championship game for the second straight year.
Carrico was the runner-up to Roger Bacon’s Cory Kiner for Mr. Football despite outplaying the LSU commit head-to-head in the state semifinal game. Carrico had three touchdowns and 179 yards rushing as Ironton won 22-19.
Kiner — who only plays offense — had 102 yards and a touchdown.
Carrico was disappointed he did not win the award but he handled the questionable voting results with class and noted that it wasn’t is ultimate goal.
“I’ve said multiple times my biggest goal this season was to go out with a state championship. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t get either one of them, but you’ve just got to move on. I can’t change what happened five days ago or five months ago or five years ago. Just forget it and move on,” Carrico said.
Defensively, Carrico did not log as many minutes this season due to so many lopsided wins and the shortened season. However, he still had 50 tackles with 25 solo stops including 15 tackles for a loss and three quarterback sacks.
As a junior, Carrico rushed 191 times for 1,590 yards and 28 touchdowns including seven postseason scores.
Defensively, he racked up 168 tackles including three sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, one pass interception and scored two defensive touchdowns over the 15-game schedule that ended with a Division 5 state runner-up.
Carrico became the first Ironton player to be selected to play in the Under Armour All-American game although the game won’t be played this year due to COVID-19 issues.
He was also named one of 37 players from Ohio on the Sports Illustrated All-American football team watch list.
Carrico was no average sophomore as he ran 190 times for 1,256 yards — a 6.6 yards per carry — and scored 14 touchdowns. The 6-3, 205-pounder had nine receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown.
He was selected as a Southeast All-District special mention selection as a sophomore.
Carrico followed that with a first team all-district selection both his junior and senior seasons and was named Defensive player of the Year each season.
He was the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Division 5 Defensive Player of the Year in the state both his junior and senior seasons.
While football has become the main focus in his life, Carrico said it wasn’t always that way.
He has a great-great uncle named Earl Webb who played eight season of Major League Baseball with five different teams. He had a career .306 batting average that included 67 doubles for the Boston Red Sox in 1931 and the total remains a Major League record.
Add that to his own father, Gary, who was a pitcher for the 1972 Ironton Class AA state baseball championship team.
“Actually, my first love as far as sports goes was probably baseball. Back when I was about seven or eight-years-old I’d only play baseball year-round. I picked up football and started playing in the fourth grade and then gradually started playing basketball, baseball and football,” said Carrico.
“I think middle school is when football became my favorite sport, maybe my eighth, ninth grade years. That’s when it became my favorite sport,” he confessed.
Football not only became his favorite sport, but his best sport as well and colleges began to take notice.
Ohio State opened the door to recruiting his sophomore season in early March. Marshall joined the mix and a little late Pittsburgh began to show some interest.
“Marshall offered me and then from there I got a couple other offers like Ohio U., Toledo and then Wisconsin offered me and I think Ohio State felt the pressure they needed to offer me pretty quick.”
The recruiting calls began to increase during the spring and summer before his junior year. He said the tried to take a very pragmatic approach to the whole recruiting process.
“I grew up an Ohio State fan. A lot of people know that. Most kids in Southern Ohio are. But I tried to enter the recruiting with a level-headed mindset. I’m going to break down all these schools no matter who they are whether it’s Ohio State or Clemson or people like that and really why I would like them, not really why most people like them. That’s the same reason I didn’t visit Alabama or I didn’t go on multiple visits to Clemson,” said Carrico.
He said the most visits he went on were to Ohio State because he committed early.
“I think I made the right choice,” said Carrico.
Besides football and baseball, the all-around athlete played basketball and he originally thought he might have a future in the sport.
He was the starting center for the Fighting Tigers in high school for three seasons and was a two-time all-district pick and honorable mention All-Ohio last season. But with the decision to enter Ohio State early, Carrico had to pass on his senior season.
“Through middle school I was much bigger than everybody and I thought I was a basketball player. I was about 6-2 in the eighth grade, so I didn’t know if I was going to be 6-5 or 6-6. I haven’t grown an inch since,” said Carrico with a chuckle.
“It all kind of changed after that.”
After going from baseball to basketball and then football, this is one time Ohio State is glad Carrico decided to flip.