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Former Bruin brings pro knowledge to hometown

FORMER BRUIN BRINGS PRO KNOWLEDGE TO HOMETOWN

During his five-year odyssey in trying to find a pro football home, Markell Carter learned the golden value of opportunity. His persistence, determination and absolute will to succeed drove him through an ordeal where chances were scarce and based on the bottom line of dollars and cents and business. “At the end of the day, it’s a job,” the Bartlesville High School graduate said about pro football. “A little injury can be detrimental to a career. … It was an uphill battle, but it was something I was up for.” After his latest effort to earn a spot in the Canadian Football League came up just shy — due to an injury — Carter decided to move on to the next phase of his life. For him, the future begins back home. Carter is working at Madison Middle School and coaching linebackers for the Bartlesville High School football team — just 10 years after his final season in a Bruin uniform. “Its awesome to bring that knowledge back home,” Carter said. “He works his tail off,” said Bruin head coach John McKee, who started as a Bartlesville assistant just a year or two after Carter graduated. “He relates well to the kids. It always helps when you have that type of guy who has been in the league, which played college football, that’s from this town. When we talk to these kids … he’s a prime example. He’s living, breathing proof about what we’re talking about.” “He’s been a pleasant, pleasant addition,” said Bruin defensive coordinator Kyle Ppool. “Immediately, the kids are in love with him. … With his experience at multiple levels, he knows how to play football.” And, how. Following his graduation from Bartlesville, Carter played all four years at the University of Central Arkansas as a defensive lineman. During his senior season, he distinguished himself as one of the best in the country at his position, while racking up 20.5 tackles for loss. Carter even scored a defensive touchdown to cap his college career, which ended in the 2010 season. During the spring of 2011, the New England Patriots tabbed Carter as their sixth-round pick (No. 194 overall) in the NFL draft. But, Carter’s challenges in the pro game began immediately. That was the infamous year of the lockout, which prohibited teams from holding workouts and camps. That situation proved especially devastating for rookies trying to prove themselves. “It was a learning curve,” Carter said about the end of the lockout, during mid-summer 2011. “I get a phone call and the next day I was in New England and seven days later I’m playing in my first pro football game (preseason).” Carter’s trial had more layers than that. Whereas in college he played on the defensive line, the Patriots drafted him as a linebacker. “I had a week to learn that position and I had to fight for a spot on the team,” he noted. Even so, the Patriots held on to Carter until the final cuts. Then they resigned him to their practice squad, where he distinguished himself as their Practice Player of the Year. Bolstered by Carter’s potential, the Patriots offered him in early 2012, a new contact. But, in June 2012 — after they had signed some experienced free agents at his position — the Patriots released Carter. Tryouts followed during the following weeks with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles but neither one worked out for him. The next three-and-a-half years saw Carter sign, or assigned, to multiple Arena Football League teams and play a season with the Colorado Ice of the Indoor Football League. While with the Ice, Carter helped the team — which had been 2-5 — power to an eight-game winning streak. In 2015, Carter appeared to be on the verge of making the Montreal Allouette’s roster, in the CFL, but an injury derailed his goal. Earlier his year, the Allouettes again brought him to camp, but an injury issue again closed the door. Prior to going to journey to Montreal, Carter — who worked out at the high school — already had forged a friendship with McKee. “He was out there working in the indoor training one day and I said, ‘If you’re going to be in town, do you want to coach with us,” McKee recalled. “We were looking and had some spots for coaches open,” Ppool said. “Coach McKee called me in and said, ‘Do you remember Markell?” He said we’ve got a chance to get him involved. I asked him if he’d be interested in working with the linebackers. He jumped right in.” But, Carter’s stay in Bartlesville may not extend many years. He still has goal of making it on a pro football roster — not as a player, but as a coach. “I would love to be a position coach in the NFL,” he said. “The goal is the same — I want to make it to the NFL. I have great connections in Arkansas and great connections with my old college coach. I feel like I’m in my ideal situation.” Just as his youth in Bartlesville helped prepare him for success as a college and pro athlete, his hometown is now “a tool to help prepare me for my career.”

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