2013 NFL Draft: Duron Carter's Journey and How It Has Shaped Him for the Future

Joshua GleasonContributor IIIJanuary 29, 2013

Much has been made of the path of Duron Carter.

First, we all knew him as the son of NFL legend, future Hall of Famer, and Minnesota Vikings great Cris Carter. Next, his legend began to grow due to what he was doing on the field – part of a St. Thomas Aquinas team that won back-to-back state championships in large part due to the 14 touchdown catches Duron reeled in as a senior – and he became a top high school recruit.  Duron chose to follow his Dad’s footprints and go play for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Next, as a freshman in 2009, he caught 13 receptions for 176 yards along with a touchdown against Indiana. However, that “next” could also be marked as his “finale” in his collegiate playing career, as he never played again at the FBS level.

Duron left Ohio State due to academic reasons after that season. He then attended Coffeyville Community College where he was able to ‘wow’ on the field once again, catching ten touchdown passes. From there, he transferred to Alabama but only lasted there for a year before heading to his final stop, Florida Atlantic. Duron tried to get on the field immediately for the Owls, petitioning for immediate eligibility, but the NCAA denied that. While he continued to struggle with academics, he was always working to improve them while also still practicing.

Four years, four different schools, and now heading to the NFL with only a dozen and one catches to his name at the FBS level.

Duron has handled his situation and is trying to make it clear to NFL teams that he has learned from his experiences.

“Ohio State was my fault,” said Duron. “I had a lot of growing up to do. I feel like I handled that.”

Duron’s fall from grace as one of the top high school receivers in the nation to the point he is at today has altered the way he is as a person.

“Completely different,” Duron said about who he is as a person now compared to when he was a freshman at Ohio State. “I was the top receiver coming out and I had all the stats and highlights. It was a humbling experience.”

Now Duron is going to have to answer the similar questions from NFL teams about why he took the path that he did.

“Just has to be honest during the interview process,” said his father Cris. “Don’t make excuses. Be responsible.”

Duron doesn’t believe it will be difficult to be straightforward saying, “It won’t be hard at all, being truthful to the coaches and the NFL scouts.”

Now, Duron is working to make his childhood dream of being an NFL player come true.

Training at XPE Sports in Boca Raton, Florida, Duron is working hard each and every day under the tutelage of his father (an instructor there) and other draft prospects, including fellow wide receivers Keenan Allen of California, Stedman Bailey of West Virginia, Rodney Smith of Florida State, and Conner Vernon from Duke. Bailey and Smith both played their high school ball in Miami, Florida near Duron and know each other from their high school days. Duron said that it’s been fun being with them and that “it has been like a reunion for us.”

Their typical day of training begins at 9 a.m. each morning which consists of stretching and lifting. They head to the field in the afternoon to do on-field drills and don’t finish up with their day until later in the evening. Duron said this is “the hardest I’ve ever worked,” and that’s saying a lot coming from a former Nick Saban player.

“You have to be the best and that’s what he strives for,” said Duron on Saban.

Duron is impressing during his training. With his goal to get his forty yard dash time down to the low 4.4’s, he has ran a 4.49 while consistently running low 4.5’s. Duron has an 80-inch wingspan, which is longer than anybody measured in at the Senior Bowl last week. He also has a 35-inch vertical jump and a 10 feet, 4 inch broad jump, both quality marks.

Duron isn’t just impressing with his workout numbers. One source who has been to the workouts said that he has looked just as impressive as Keenan Allen, who is generally regarded as the top receiver in the draft and a first round lock. Duron makes “better acrobatic catches” than Allen I was told, and if you look up some of the training on YouTube, you can see Duron making some incredible catches at times.

Naturally, Duron is also a student of the game. Being the son of an NFL legend, he has always been around the game and strived to be better at it. Cris said that his son “loves talking about the receiver position” to him and that he utilizes him and Allen in many of the demonstrations of how to run routes. Duron also takes great pride in something his father did well that he says is his greatest strength; catching the football.

“(Some receivers) get so caught up in speed and everything and forget about catching the ball,” said Duron. “I don’t drop anything.”

Duron is now trying to make-up for something he did drop though, a chance to be a star at an FBS program and missing out on playing the game he adores.

“Unexplainable,” Duron said about missing out on the opportunity to play in more collegiate games. “I don’t think anybody that plays football loves the game like I do. I love the experience.”

Duron hasn’t received an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana, but is attending one of the regional combines in Houston, Texas. It will be a chance to show NFL teams what he has.

“I feel like I’m ready right now and moving forward,” said Duron. “I have to be confident in moving forward, be the best I can be in the NFL. The best I can do is play to the best of my abilities and teams will like me. All you need is one team.”

His father said how this decision to go to the NFL was "all up to (Duron)" and said that staying in school at this point wouldn't of help anymore.

"No one else suffered but (Duron)," Cris said. "He realizes what he has been through and has learned."

When asked what he wants his lasting impression to be for the NFL personnel he talks to, he said “a guy that we really want on our team.”

“I love playing football. It’s what I love to do.”

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.