July 17, 2008

Oher's status has Carpenter thinking

James Carpenter would love to be in Michael Oher's position _ figuratively, at least _ one day.

First, he just might literally take Oher's position.

The 6-foot-5, 305-pound offensive tackle from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College has one more year of junior college football in front of him. Then he wants to go to a school that will hopefully get him ready for the NFL.

So, yes, Carpenter has taken notice of Oher, Ole Miss' starting left tackle and a consensus top-10 pick in next April's NFL draft.

"That's good stuff," Carpenter said, referencing Oher's lofty draft status. "That's impressive. I'm trying to get to where I can do the same thing. That's something I have to look at."

Carpenter, an Augusta, Ga., native, has offers from Ole Miss, Iowa State and Oklahoma State. While he's not ready to name a leader, twice Thursday he listed Ole Miss as one of two favorites, once with the Cyclones and once with the Cowboys.

"Ole Miss is going to be in there when I make my decision," Carpenter said, adding that he is also interested in South Carolina and Clemson, though neither school from the Palmetto State has offered yet. "It's a really good school, one that I really like. The coaches are really cool."

Specifically, Carpenter said he's looking for an offensive line coach who can help develop his skills. Ole Miss' Mike Markuson, Carpenter said, appears to fit the bill.

"He's a good coach," Carpenter said. "He knows what he's talking about. I think he'd coach me up real good if I went there."

In addition, Carpenter is going to really focus in on the respective strength and conditioning programs at his prospective suitors, knowing that a strong weight and running program could help refine his body, all in the hopes that one day he's in Oher's shoes, prepping for a professional career.

"I think I'm pretty ready but I think I have some work to do," Carpenter said.

Carpenter, who started every game as a freshman at Coffeyville, took an unofficial visit to Stillwater, Okla., in late June. He visited with former Coffeyville teammate Chris Donaldson, Oklahoma State offensive line coach (and former Ole Miss offensive line coach) Joe Wickline and checked out the Cowboys' facilities.

"It went good," Carpenter said. "They have some impressive facilities and the ones they're building are great too."

As for a timetable for a commitment, Carpenter doesn't have one. He wants to go to Iowa State and check things out at Ole Miss before deciding.

"I have to take a visit," Carpenter said. "I don't know when that will be."

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