GLENWOOD, Iowa — Growth spurts can alter an athletic career.
Growing six inches in a few months — or four shoe sizes in 30 days — can make things like moving side to side on a football field awkward. But ultimately, the spurt pays off.
It happened to Glenwood running back Noah Carter near the end of his sophomore year.
Extra weight began to turn to muscle, and a sport not sanctioned in Iowa helped Carter, now 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, learn to use his new set of wheels.
“I was kind of a chunky kid growing up,” Carter said. “There was a kid in the class that just graduated who asked me if I wanted to play rugby, and it sounded like fun.”
Spring of 2017 was a turning point. Before then, Carter had been an offensive lineman and defensive end since the second grade. But the fun he had playing rugby gave him the confidence to move a few steps behind the line.
That’s when Carter’s speed began to show, and he wasn’t the only one to notice. Glenwood coach Cory Faust was getting reports from teammates and coaches about Carter’s athletic evolution.
“Some of the kids saw him running with the ball in the spring of his sophomore year,” Faust said. “He decided to give it a shot, and it was easy to notice that he was getting a lot faster. Conditioning is more of a thing for rugby because it’s continuous play. There’s no 20 seconds or more between plays.”
Last season — Carter’s first as a running back since a few plays in pee wee league — he rushed for 987 yards (6.2 per carry). He also scored 20 touchdowns.
“He was our full-time B back last year, which is like a fullback in a dive-option offense,” Faust said. “He was more of a downhill guy. We might try to get him on the outside a little bit this year. I think he’d be very good out there.”
Carter’s evolution into a running back wasn’t forced, it was natural, according to Faust.
“He’s a strong kid who spends a lot of time in the weight room,” Faust said. “He’s naturally a bigger, faster guy. Not many guys with his build can run as fast as he can or are as athletic as he is. He’s a guy who likes to compete hard and play hard.
“It’s a good recipe.”
Playing college football is the next step for Carter. He has an offer from Dordt and made an impression this summer with North Dakota State, the defending FCS champion. During a camp in Fargo, Carter earned one of the Elite Camper awards presented by Bison coaches.
“In a one-on-one drill, the coach blows the whistle and we start pushing on each other, trying to move the guy back,” Carter said. “I dominated in that against some bigger kids. That was a lot of fun.”
Carter said he’d be happy to play either offense or defense at the next level. But if anybody is asking, he does have a preference.
“It depends on the school, but I like playing outside linebacker,” he said. “Being able to move around and get to the ball, that’s what I enjoy.”
Faust agrees that defense will be the likely destination for Carter. His speed will be at a premium at the next level.
“We’ve known for a lot of years that he’s really, really talented,” Faust said. “You want your better players to be the hardest workers. We think he has the talent to play at that level. Ultimately, where he could play at the highest level is defensive end or outside linebacker.”