Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

August 28, 2013

Carper big cog for Rams

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Darius Carper stands out on a football field, and not just because he stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 330 pounds.

Carper will spend one season at Bluefield College, having transferred from Concord for his senior year, but the talented offensive lineman has accepted his role as a leader who is willing to push his fellow teammates to success.

“By me being a leader, it forces me to keep myself going as well,” Carper said. “Because if you are going to be in a leader capacity, you have to hold yourself to a higher standard so that is what I do and hopefully these guys catch on and we are all going in the same direction.”

A former standout at Graham and Concord, Carper transferred prior to this season, and is expected to lead, not only a young offensive line, but as the only senior among a collection of youngsters for a program in just its second season of football since 1941.

“I definitely look at myself in a leader capacity. I am a senior coming in,” Carper said. “I have had experiences on the field so I have been around some success so I know what it takes. I know what it looks like from that perspective and just trying to keep the guys up and working hard.”

Carper was a sophomore at Concord in 2011 when the Mountain Lions captured the West Virginia Conference regular season championship.  Among the 11 games he started over his final two seasons in Athens was the Division II playoff game with Kutztown.

He is anxious to bring a similar winning experience to Bluefield, a program that last won a game in the days prior to World War II.

“I was fortunate to be part of that team that won a conference championship at Concord,” said Carper, whose brother, T.J., played football at Marshall, and his sister played basketball at Graham. “That was a blessing so just bringing that mentality here, I have been around success.

“By that time you have the vision and you know what it takes to be successful, and just making sure the guys fall in line with that, fall in line with what the coaches are teaching us and just being that guy.”

Carper was an All-Southwest District and All-Region IV offensive lineman at Graham, who played three seasons at Concord. He made the decision to transfer to Bluefield thanks to a higher calling.

“I said at the beginning of my college career that I am just going to let God lead my footsteps and lead my path,” Carper said. “This is where God has placed me, I had a wonderful experience at Concord.

“I learned a lot, I grew a lot as a person, as a man and now this is where God has placed me so I am ready to do what I have to do here.”

That is trying to help Bluefield College win football games. The Rams were 0-11 in the program’s first season after a 71-year hiatus from the football field.

Bluefield will open its season on Saturday with a noon kickoff at Point University in Valley, Ala. Carper had enjoyed his initial introduction to the team that had a change in leadership in the offseason, with Ordell Walker replacing Mike Gravier as head coach.

“This first couple of weeks has been a real positive experience,” said Carper, during a football media gathering earlier this month. “From a player perspective coming into camp, you really don’t know what to expect from the new coaching staff.

“This has really been a really positive experience from the team and the players just buying into encouraging each other, to helping each other out, rather it be assignments to technique.

“Everybody is just buying in completely and it is just setting a wonderful environment for our team as well and to ultimately become successful so I am really proud of the team with where we are at this point.”

What has stood out most to Carper is just the positive environment that Walker and his staff have brought to the Rams.  

“He has just brought so much positivity and encouragement, there is times when we have to correct ourselves and he gives us guidance as needed, but he also just reinforces with positivity and helping the team to encouraging others,” Carper said. “We had a team meeting about guardrails, how we need those people to be guardrails in our life and to keep us on track and surrounding ourselves with positive people to help us grow. That is what he has brought to this program.”

While Walker wants to win football games, he sees his role as a coach to mentor young men for lives after playing careers are over, something that Carper can appreciate as a senior with one year of college left to go.

“He has brought growth into this program and that is something you don’t see often within athletics, a coach that just cares about the person and they are not just a jersey number, they are a person and cares about their growth and maturity as a man as well,” Carper said. “That is something he has really taught and brought all the players on the team coming into camp that I didn’t expect to see, but it has been a blessing to see it.”

Carper is excited to get on the football field on Saturday against someone not wearing similar Bluefield colors. The Rams expected to do that last Friday, but an expected scrimmage with Emory & Henry College fell through.

Now, the Rams will get their first test when the season kicks off for real in Alabama against the Skyhawks, who are also in their second year with a program.

“Going against the same guys every day gets tedious because those defensive guys start to pick up on your plays that you are running every day, day in and day out, so I always like to say the defense starts cheating,” said Carper, with a smile. “It is fun, but you are always ready to go against an opposite color jersey and just see what you are really made of as a team.”

—Contact Brian Woodson at

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