IRONTON — Simply put, with his single signature on Wednesday, Reid Carrico kept his commitment to play major college football —and the Ohio State Buckeyes certainly got one of their main men.
And, not to be overlooked, Wednesday’s winners also included Ironton High School football fans —and Southeastern Ohio football fans in general.
That’s because Carrico — as part of the early national signing period for football players bound for major Football Bowl Subdivision programs — made it official, and made good on his verbal commitment of over a year ago of playing for Ohio State.
In front of family, coaches, Fighting Tiger teammates and a few friends inside Ironton’s Conley Center, Carrico signed his national Letter-of-Intent to play for the Buckeyes — becoming one of 21 players as part of OSU’s 2021 recruiting class.
With multiple media members from the immediate Ironton, Ashland (Ky.) and Huntington (W. Va.) area on hand, the well-spoken Carrico commented on what it meant to finally sign with the Buckeyes.
Carrico is one of six Ohioans in this recruiting class, joining Jack Sawyer, Jaylen Johnson, Mike Hall, Ben Christman and Jayden Ballard.
“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 as a nobody again. I don’t mind talking to you guys (local media). I like to think I’m pretty good at talking to you guys. It really means a lot to my family and me. Today is a big day.”
For not just Carrico, but the entire Ironton program —which under third-year head coach Trevon Pendleton has won 23 games in two years and has advanced to back-to-back Division V state title tilts.
Carrico, on both sides of the football of course, was a reason —if not the biggest reason — why.
“As a football player, Reid’s an obviously incredibly talented kid. He does everything you ask for. The difference he has made in the program is everything. He is a great kid, a great leader, a great person to be around. He does all the little things right. He never takes a play off. He is a class act all the time and a role model for everybody, whether it’s in the weightroom, the classroom or in the community,” praised Pendleton, the former West standout who went on to play and excel at Michigan State. “He’s always been the hardest-working person in the room, and if he goes and does that at OSU, the cream always rises to the top and good things will continue to happen for him. I’ve just told him to go be himself. The speed of the game will be an adjustment and be a lot faster of course, but Reid’s learning curve will be a lot less than a lot of kids I’ve seen go play at that level. Just because of his work ethic and the mentality that he carries. I think he will be just fine.”
The six-foot three-inch 235-pound Carrico is Ohio’s two-time Division V Defensive Player of the Year, and was the runner-up — following a re-vote tiebreaker —for Ohio’s prestigious Mr. Football award.
Speaking of Mr. Football, Carrico becomes the first player from a Southeast District program to sign with high-profile Ohio State since Athens quarterback Joe Burrow became a Buckeye following the 2014 campaign.
Burrow was that year’s winner for Mr. Football, despite splitting the Division III Offensive Player of the Year award.
Carrico, conversely, was recruited to Ohio State as a linebacker —and is highly-regarded, by several accredited national scouting services throughout the country, as the top-rated linebacker in the entire nation.
In a career of firsts, he was the first player in the history of the Southeast District all-district teams to win both Defensive AND Offensive Player of the Year in the same year (2020) —and became the first Ironton player ever to be selected to play in the Under Armour All-American game.
He was asked what life will be like being a Buckeye, playing in the Big Ten Conference, and about making the adjustment from small-town Ironton to big-city Columbus.
Carrico, who plans to major in mechanical engineering, said the first season should probably be the most challenging.
He plans to move onto the Ohio State campus on Jan. 7, as the spring semester starts for the university four days later.
By early enrolling for the spring semester, Carrico can partake in the Buckeyes’ 2021 spring practice.
“I just think it’s going to be great. The semester doesn’t start until the 11th, but I’m going to get up there and try to get acclimated. 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,” he said. “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.”
Carrico also spoke about his recruiting process, and what some of Ohio State’s selling points were.
It all began back in early March of his sophomore season, as Marshall University soon joined the mix — along with the likes of Pittsburgh.
He also received a nearby offer from Ohio University, but the heavier hitters —such as Ohio State and Wisconsin from the Big Ten — then began to offer.
As the major recruiting calls increased prior to his junior year, Carrico —being a lifelong Ohio State fan — finally made a verbal commitment to the Buckeyes and head coach Ryan Day.
The most official visits he went on were to Ohio State as well, because he did commit so early.
“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 process 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 never visited Alabama or I didn’t go on multiple visits to Clemson,” said Carrico. “I think I made the right choice.”
And most — if not all — Ironton, Southeastern Ohio and Ohio State football fans indeed agree.
“What I’ve done in high school here at Ironton is show up every single day and work hard. You show up every single day and work hard and stay ambitious, then good things will happen,” said Carrico. “It’s a breath of fresh air for me that this is done and out of the way now, and I look forward to the next four years.”
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved