COLUMBUS, Ohio — No one, even his biggest advocates, thought Carter Lowe would one day become a Division I football player.
Sure, it’s easy to look at the 6-foot-5, 315-pound offensive tackle from Whitmer High School in Toledo and assume he was always destined to be a football star. But up until a few years ago, that was never the plan.
Lowe’s first love was basketball. And for a time, the thought of him even putting on a helmet was outlandish.
“I don’t want to say hate, but he disliked football a lot,” Carter’s father, Christopher, said. “Didn’t want to try it.”
Carter’s dedication and work ethic was never questioned, it’s just that it was used toward basketball.
“I mean, when I say he had nothing to do with football, it was all basketball until he played (freshman year),” Carter’s mom, Latonya, said. “Didn’t even watch it. He didn’t even play the video games — even football.”
But Carter, after some insisting from his father and brother, decided to play football his freshman year. He quickly started pushing people around, and a love for the sport began to grow. And just three seasons later, he turned himself into one of the most recruited offensive linemen in the country.
The No. 79 overall player and No. 9 offensive tackle in the 2025 class, per the 247Sports composite rankings, Carter has drawn comparisons to former Ohio State offensive tackle Paris Johnson — who just went sixth overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. He’s also the headline commit on the offensive line for a Buckeye recruiting class that was in desperate need of a player of Carter’s caliber, at his position.
And less than four years after he put on pads for the first time, Carter is one of the biggest reasons for hope as it relates to future Ohio State offensive lines.
“He went to practice, and he said he loved to practice, but he didn’t want to play,” Christopher recalled of Carter’s freshman season with a chuckle. “Now look at him.”
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Carter says he takes yoga, and that’s fine by his strength and conditioning coach, Ryan Christie. But it’s not yoga in the traditional sense, the type that many think of. It’s more of a methodology.
Christie, who coached Carter in basketball for a year and has trained him for two more, follows the ATG Program, which was started by Ben Patrick. To those in the know, it’s referred to as, “Knees Over Toes.” (Patrick’s Instagram handle is, “kneesovertoesguy.”)
It’s a philosophy that is designed around workouts with the idea that letting your knees move over your toes is beneficial for long-term knee and ankle health, and the impact it’s had on Carter has been tremendous.
“When Carter first came to me, he had really weak ankles on the basketball court,” Christie said. “He was not mobile at all. There’s a lot of times where I couldn’t put him in games because we were playing at a really high level where it was difficult for him to guard people on the perimeter.”
But an example Christie pointed to was “Tibialis raises,” an uncommon lift that strengthens the muscle in the shin between the knee and ankle. Carter started at 30 pounds, which for a 300-pound lineman, is next-to-nothing.
By the end of that season, he was doing 85 pounds regularly.
“He went from a guy that was spraining his ankle almost every time we played in a tournament, to not having a single ankle problem the entire season last year,” Christie said. “I think a big reason is because of that stuff that we’re doing.”
Christie, who runs Verus Athletics based in Northwest Ohio, has seen the impact it’s had on Carter on the football field, too.
“I got to go see him play after doing all this work, and immediately, I could tell his explosiveness had really changed,” Christie said. “Where he wasn’t just a big slow guy out in the field, he was a guy that was getting to the next level when he’s going to pulling on blocks. He’s a dynamic player out there, even at the offensive line position. And I felt like he really made a big impact on the game because of that. But we put a huge focus on the lower leg, the ankles, the knees, and he continues to get stronger in those areas. He can move weight like I’ve never seen before, but really focusing on those smaller areas (that) I think is making a big impact for him.”
The footwork, certainly aided by his basketball past with play in the paint, has helped make him a dominant left tackle at the high school level. He’s got stellar athleticism for his position, and the way he bends and moves on the offensive line had college coaches very interested.
“He doesn’t move like he’s 315 pounds,” Latonya said. “He moves like he’s 250 because he’s really light. So that’s what all the coaches, even he went to Clemson, they could not believe that he weighs what he weighs. (They said) ‘There’s no way he weighs that much because of his body structure.’”
Injury prevention, athleticism or mobility, it’s hard to point to an area of his basketball and training past, and say Carter hasn’t benefitted from it.
“He’s so agile now,” Christopher said. “He can stretch, (he’s) looser, injuries not as much, but it pays off. The stuff that he does at yoga, I’m not going to do it. I just can’t do it. The stuff that they put him through, I mean…but it pays off.”
For as big as Carter was, and eventually as mobile as he’d become, the learning curve on the football field was evident when he started playing.
By the time they reach ninth grade, many kids have been playing football — in some form — for years. At the very least, they were football fans.
Carter was not that.
“When he first started in his freshman and sophomore years, he was always overthinking things and kind of scared to make a mistake,” Whitmer offensive line coach Eric Brown said. “In the last few years, he’s kind of gained a lot of confidence in himself and understanding of football. He’s started playing really fast. When you’re thinking, you’re not really confident in yourself and you’re not really getting off the football. That’s totally changed since his sophomore year.”
Brown remembered a time when Carter came into the football offices and acknowledged that he was thinking too much, which was holding him back. He vowed to “be me” and start playing football confidently. It worked.
“Especially this last football season, grasping the why of why he’s doing something,” Brown said of Carter’s growth. “His sophomore year, he knew his job but he didn’t know why he was doing it. I think his junior year, that’s really one of the reasons why he had such a big step and had such an awesome season.”
Carter started gaining college attention before he was even a varsity starter, earning offers from Toledo, Central Michigan and UMass in May of 2022 after his freshman year.
Then things hit another level.
He earned an Ohio State offer on Jan. 27, 2023, one year prior to his official commitment to the Buckeyes. And when that offer came through, he warned his parents, “They’re going to come out.”
They did, as he earned Michigan State and Michigan offers in the following two days. Penn State, Florida State, Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson, Alabama, Florida and Auburn followed before his junior season began. Per 247Sports, he had 22 total offers.
He had played just two seasons of football in his life, and still, programs from all over the country wanted to speak with him. Including Ohio State.
There wasn’t a specific conversation or a moment that made Carter realize Columbus was where he wanted to play football when Ohio State hosted Penn State in October, it was just that he felt like home when he was on campus.
That, and the fact that his relationship with offensive line coach Justin Frye impressed both him and his parents greatly.
“We clicked instantly, he’s a really easy guy to talk to,” Carter said. “That’s probably a big thing for me for sure, when he offered I was super excited. I was starstruck, I had no idea it was coming.”
Carter might be Frye’s biggest recruiting win in his career with Ohio State, because of the on-field product clearly, but his relationship with the family right next to it.
“When a coach in a program shows your child such love, they call him often, ‘How’s this? How’s this? How’s your mom? How’s your dad? How’s your granddad? How’s your grandmom?’ That means a lot,” Christopher said. “And aside from that, when he stepped foot on campus, they knew it and they took very (good) care of not only him, they took very (good) care of his parents as well.”
But for someone from Ohio, especially a football player, Carter never had the level of animosity that many have for Michigan. Go check the crowd at one of Carter’s games, and there’ll be a good mix of Maize and Blue and Scarlet and Gray.
That, though, never impacted Carter. It’s hard for that to be the case when you don’t follow football until high school.
“It was very raw for me, because I went in with an open mind,” Carter said. “I saw the rivalry, but I was never a fan of either team. I’m actually glad where I started. I’m really happy, I’m glad I made the decision that I did.”
He said he got to see programs for who they are, specifically Michigan and Ohio State, not through the lens of him living in Ohio.
Carter, though, has already learned not to say the word, “Michigan.” He even added that the Wolverines were once ahead of the Buckeyes in his recruitment, but Frye and Ohio State’s consistency, and Michigan’s lack of, won him over. He said that Michigan doesn’t do a good job recruiting off-campus, and that was noticed.
“It really varies because there’s a difference of offering early and then keeping in contact for the entire time,” Carter said. “The Team Up North, I talked to them for a while, I like coach (Sherrone) Moore a lot, actually. In the beginning, I liked UM more. But I didn’t really have that relationship that I had with coach Frye, and he didn’t keep me as engaged as I wanted to.”
That pushed him toward Ohio State even more, as the Buckeyes entered the lead in the summer and never lost their spot.
He told his parents, matter-of-factly, that Ohio State was the choice just a few weeks before his commitment. Latonya says she had to hold it for two weeks (cracking, “who says I held it?”), but the Buckeyers were the choice that became to clear to everyone that was involved in his recruiting process.
“As a coach myself, and as a parent that’s allowing my son to play for someone, I’m there at the first two practices,” Christopher said. “If I think that you are good at what you do for one, and going to take care of my son, I’m going to release you. I’m not going to show up at practice as much. I don’t have to do that for Ohio State, because they showed me that already.”
If Carter’s football journey feels like it’s happened quickly, it’s because it has.
In 2021, he was playing football for the first time. In 2022, he was putting in the leg-work (literally) to become a high-end recruit. And in 2023, he was wanted by handfuls of the best programs in the country.
Not too shabby for someone that didn’t see the football field until high school.
“You couldn’t tell me at that present time (his freshman year) that that was going to happen for him,” Christopher said. “…Never in a million years that I would think it’d be at this level. Not because he couldn’t do it, but because he loved basketball so much.”
And the scary part of it is, Carter is seemingly just scratching the surface of the football player he can become.
“He’s very humble, he’s very respectful,” Latonya said. “Just like you can’t, he’s like, ‘I cannot believe it.’ And the coaches say, ‘You don’t even realize where you’re going with this.’”
Carter has just one season left of high school football before he heads to Columbus, but when he does so, the lasting impressions he’ll leave extend far beyond football.
“There’s not a person he won’t talk to and have a conversation with,” Christie said. “I’ve got younger kids coming in and out of there and he’s the first one to talk to him, and they’re coming up to him right away. I think that’s just pretty cool. Says a lot about him, too. He’s this big time recruit, and he’s still making friends with the youngest guys coming in.”
Up next for Carter will be the same process he’s gone through the last few years: More workouts, more drills and more film study.
As one of the top players in the nation, though, it’s hard for coaches to not to look at what he is as a player, and what he can still become, and begin to smile.
“He needs to get in the weight room, get a bit stronger, but other than that, he’s taken his game to another level,” Brown said. “He does a really good job of working on his craft of being an offensive lineman, not just lifting in the weight room and running. I’m super excited to see that translate to the football field.”
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