When Ohio State goes into the transfer portal, they are looking to bring in somebody who is going to contend for a starting job.
With the departures of starting safeties Ronnie Hickman and Tanner McCalister following the 2022 season, it was decided that the Buckeyes would seek a possible addition in the transfer portal.
They quickly landed upon Syracuse safety Ja’Had Carter, who was a three-year starter for the Orange.
Part of the allure of Carter was that he had experience at basically every safety position on a football field. He has played the wide side, the short side, the slot, and he’s been in the box ready to help out in run support. Everywhere he played gave Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and safeties coach Perry Eliano a perfect look at how he might fit into the Buckeyes’ defense.
Carter arrived at Ohio State in time to practice in the spring, beginning his Buckeye career as the second-team nickel. About halfway through camp, however, he suffered an injury and missed the final two weeks of spring practice.
Even though Carter will have a full month of fall camp to get ready, it was still a considerable setback for a player that Ohio State was hoping would get the benefit of all 15 spring practices.
“Yes. Very unfortunate,” Eliano said. “Even though he’s played a lot of football coming from where he’s came from, we do things a little different — the teaching, the progression, just getting a true evaluation of who Ja’Had is for myself with him each and every day. I hate that it happened, it’s unfortunate.”
The injury wasn’t overly serious, but still serious enough to shut him down. He is now back to 100 percent, however, and taking part in summer workouts.
While he missed time on the practice field getting reps, he didn’t miss time in the playbook. Carter also stayed mentally engaged, which wasn’t a surprise because one of the other things the Ohio State coaches look for when they go into the portal is somebody who fits the culture and puts in the unseen work.
Still, Eliano knows the importance of practice time.
“He’s a good football player. He’s coachable, he wants to learn, and he’s a worker,” Eliano said. “He’s what we thought when we went out and wanted to bring in a transfer safety. I’ve been pleased at this point. The only way you truly get better is to play the game, and so it was unfortunate that he got hurt, but he’s back 100 percent. He’s in drills, he’s in workouts, and I’m excited to see his growth this summer.”
Despite the shortened camp for Ja’Had Carter, he still got plenty of work. He was injured during the eighth of 15 practices. While the other seven practices would have been great for Carter’s understanding of the Ohio State defense, the coaches are also able to look at his previous three years of college for further inclinations of what they can ask of him.
“I got a pretty good idea,” Eliano said. “But I hate that he didn’t get those practices in, just because he’s coming into a new system. Even though he’s played a lot where he came from, he’s still coming into a new system. And the only way I know you get better is to practice, and so I’m looking forward to working with him this summer, going into fall camp.”