Updated: Wednesday, February 1, 2017
From the first time Matt Carrick stepped foot on the campus of Michigan State University, he felt something special.
Perry’s 6-foot-4, 310-pound offensive lineman had been to plenty of other schools. But while he enjoyed the beauty of some and the football program and coaches at others, it was in East Lansing where it all seemed like the total package.
To him, that feeling of comfort was what he was looking for. It was the perfect fit.
Carrick made that fit official on Wednesday morning, signing his National Letter of Intent to continue his academic and football career with the Spartans.
“I don’t know what it was about it, but I just fell in love with the place,” Carrick said.
Carrick, a Division II first-team all-state selection, was a co-captain on Perry’s state runner-up team this past fall. He played a lot of football for the Panthers, starting on both sides of the ball for the last three years, helping Perry reach back-to-back state-title game appearances and claim two straight Federal League championships. He even saw some varsity snaps during his first year at the school as a freshman.
Carrick, who is rated as a three-star prospect by many inside the national recruiting circles, is projected to play offensive guard at the next level, but he says playing on defense is still on the table - for now. He feels the most important thing is to make sure he hits the ground running once he gets to campus.
“I’m just excited to go there, that’s the biggest thing,” Carrick said. “There are great coaches up there and, overall, I think they are going to make me a better player.”
Carrick verbally committed to Michigan State last spring, before his senior campaign ever began. His feelings for the school never wavered. The two-way standout said he didn't experienced any moments when doubts about his college decision crept into his mind. In fact, Carrick was thrilled to put the recruiting process behind him so early.
He hopes to arrive on-campus this summer with an opportunity to play early on.
“I really think he’s going to the right place,” Perry coach Keith Wakefield said. “I know those guys up there pretty well. They’re all Ohio guys for the most part and I know they’ll take care of him.”
Mark Dantonio, the head coach of the Spartans, is a Zanesville native and has spent much of his coaching career inside the Buckeye State. Before taking over at Michigan State, Dantonio served as the head coach at Cincinnati and defensive coordinator at Ohio State and Youngstown State. He also spent time at both Akron and Ohio University.
Those ties to Ohio did nothing but help in the school’s pitch to Carrick.
“When they offered me, I thought that was the best place to go,” Carrick said. “I think the reason why I committed so early and stayed with them was because of the coaching.”
Another reason why Michigan State felt like the right fit for Carrick was because of its similarities to home. Like the football program - and the township’s mindset as a whole - in Perry, the Spartans pride themselves on a hard-working, blue-collar, do-more-with-less-type of attitude. That should help the soon-to-be Perry graduate fit right in.
“It’s definitely similar," Carrick said. "It's a blue-collar place. During their camp days, they all get a team picture with a workman’s shirt on.”
Something Carrick is looking forward to being a part of very soon.
Reach Joe at 330-775-1129 or email@example.com.
On Twitter: @jmitchinINDE