He may not listen, but Brandon Carter would be wise to chat with ex-TCU running back Ed Wesley about how life goes when pro football isn’t interested.
Carter came to TCU in 2011 (Wesley’s final season) with impressive high school credentials at Euless Trinity. He selected TCU over Oklahoma. Talent and ability are not the wide receiver’s issue.
Carter’s college career has been erratic, his coaches are frustrated and it would appear that Carter is on the edge of blowing it. He may not realize that at 5-foot-11, 186 pounds and with a total of nine college touchdowns, he ain’t all that. The NFL can find 500 Brandon Carters without trying.
Carter is not allowed to practice in spring ball so he can focus on school. This has the feeling that, if Carter doesn’t get this cleaned up now, he’s done at TCU.
Wesley’s career may not have mirrored Carter’s, but now a few years removed from TCU, Wesley knows where he screwed up and how to make it right.
“One hundred percent of the time, no matter the circumstance, I would tell them to get their degree first,” Wesley told me in a recent phone interview. “Some guys make enough money to come back and get their degree. Not everyone is promised the next day.
“Why would you be so confident in something we have no control over? I wish I would have stayed in school and finished another year of college ball. It’s not what I did.”
Wesley played at TCU for three seasons, won a Rose Bowl, averaged 6.3 yards per carry and scored 24 touchdowns.
Then Wesley learned what thousands of others have: There is good, and there is NFL good.
Wesley applied for the NFL’s supplemental draft in the summer of 2012, after his junior season, but was not picked. He signed a free-agent rookie deal with the Cowboys, but was cut during training camp when he was late for practice one morning. Those familiar with Ed were sad but not surprised.
He had a tryout with the Bills later in the fall, but they did not sign him. His pro career lasted about two weeks and netted him roughly $4,000.
He said he took the $4,000 he made from the Cowboys and put it toward bills. Wesley’s home life was not great; his mother, June Gates, has been fighting breast cancer and lives on government assistance.
The surprise came a few months ago when Wesley reached out to TCU about possibly returning to finish his college degree. He was not immediately granted that opportunity. The administration knew Ed, and wanted to make sure his words aligned with his actions.
When Ed was a running back at TCU, he had a tendency to know what to say but not what to do. He is rather charming, which in the right career will serve him well.
Wesley was given criteria to come back, up to and including having a job. Once he made good on everything that was asked, he returned to school on scholarship.
“When you are in college, you have to go to class,” he said. “You have to go. Unless the class is only online, you have to go. You have to know the material to be a competent professional.”
Although Wesley said he does not have a permanent place to live, he says he lives where he can while finishing his degree in social work. He should finish school this year.
Like many of us, Wesley would like to take his 21-year-old self and smack him.
“It wasn’t that I didn’t like going to class, it was just the last thing on my mind,” Wesley said. “Maturity has a lot to do with it. I realize that now.
“I would tell every athlete the education is there, grab it. Football is also there, but you don’t have to pick football over education. It’s not smart, but it’s great if you can. For the majority of us who are athletes, it would be more intelligent for us to get the most out of the education that is given to them.”
What is going on with Brandon Carter at TCU right now is not a complete parallel, but there are similarities to Wesley. Carter is not a bad kid, but he’s someone who can’t see it. His football team is not to the point of giving up on him, but there is frustration and it’s been made clear it’s his responsibility to figure it out.
The football team will not wait forever.
And this opportunity will only exist for so long before football moves on without him.
It happened to Ed Wesley, who is now moving on without football.
Let him tell you all about it.