Being a college student-athlete is a year-round job even in the offseason, but for senior Marcus Carter there is no offseason in his last year at The Rock.
Carter, known as a wide receiver for SRU, made the decision to join the track team his last semester.
“I just can’t be a regular college student,” Carter said. “Track is like a second wife to me.”
Having made a pledge to be a college football player, Carter achieved his goal playing two seasons at SRU after transferring from junior college.
In his senior season, Carter contributed 41 receptions for 510 yards and four touchdowns in one of the team’s greatest seasons ever.
With no more eligibility, Carter’s football career is over, but he would not let that stop him as an athlete.
Track was always an option for Carter. He was one of the top high school jumpers in Pennsylvania his senior year. He placed sixth overall in the long jump in the 2012 PIAA Outdoor State Championships.
When the 2015 football season ended, Carter jumped right back into the sandpit.
He is now ranked sixth in the state, but this time on the collegiate level. With a season-best 22’6.5” in the long jump, Carter hasn’t missed a beat.
He said the workouts between the two sports were different, but football gave him the mindset and ability to keep up with the rest of the team.
“Transitioning into the workouts wasn’t hard,” Carter said. “Track does more cardio and consistent hard lifting during the season, but we did hard lifting in football too. I think it’s harder for me going from a practice with a bunch of guys all day to adjusting in an environment with guys and girls too was a much tougher challenge than adjusting to workouts.”
He has made the adjustment with his new teammates, both female and male, and said he loves his team.
Carter does not just have the immediate connection with his teammates, but with his coaches too.
Carter has dealt with two different SRU coaching staffs and said they are both very different.
While he will always have an appreciation for his football coaches, he said the experience his new coaches have given him is much more personal.
“The track coaches are very helpful,” Carter said. “There are less coaches on their staff, but there is much more interaction. They tend to each player’s own needs.”
That personal interaction has given the opportunity for the coaches to recognize what Carter is capable of.
Rock track and field head coach John Papa said that Carter is still not at his full potential after years of not running, but he will be a top competitor.
“It takes a while to get consistent,” Papa said. “He has had some good jumps, but you can even ask him, he hasn’t hit the big one yet. When he starts getting consistent and he hits that step, he will hit that jump.”
While the track coaches are still learning who Carter is and the football coaches only had two years with him, one coach has had experience with Carter long before he came to The Rock. SRU wide receivers coach Frank Bongivengo, Jr. has known Carter since high school. He is a teacher and former head football coach at New Castle High School, Carter’s alma mater. Bongivengo said it was no surprise when he heard of Carter’s newest achievements because he has seen the talent since high school. He is most impressed by the man he has seen him become today.
“From a senior in high school to a senior in college, Marcus has made tremendous strides as a person, academically, and athletically,” Bongivengo said. “I really think going to (junior college) helped him on and off the field. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Carter said his life experiences has made him mature quickly. While many of his senior teammates are taking the opportunity to enjoy their final semester, Carter is dealing with the life of balancing a fully loaded schedule, and has no problem with that.
“I’m getting the total full blown cycle of everything,” Carter said. “I don’t feel like I’m losing any experience. I think I’m gaining. I’m learning how to stay on track and understand what I have to do.”
Carter’s determination, matched with his competitiveness, put him in the position to achieve what he has achieved thus far. He said he just loves the feeling he gets from playing a sport.
“I was going to be on the baseball team if I could,” Carter said. “I had to play something my last semester.”
With his final go in collegiate sports, Carter said he is giving the indoor and outdoor seasons his all. With the Indoor PSAC Championships starting this Saturday, Carter said he is going to shock the conference.
“I’m going in sixth,” Carter said. “But I’m coming back number one.”