EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — One of more than 60 NFL rookies taking part in the Minnesota Vikings rookie minicamp on Friday, Duron Carter didn’t have any trouble finding his way around.
Carter is well used to the environment. After all, his dad is the all-time leading receiver in Vikings history. But dealing with his first day in a Vikings jersey was a bit different for Carter, the son of newly elected Hall of Famer Cris Carter.
“I was kind of nervous out there,” Duron Carter said. “I dropped my first three balls. I got back into it, hopefully I can get more. I’m about to go to the Juggs machine right now and just get better.”
Carter is one of 68 players at Minnesota’s rookie minicamp this weekend, one of 34 players attending on a tryout, according to a list posted on the team’s website. But of all the players hoping for one shot to make an impression, Carter’s name stands out.
Carter is a 6-foot-4 receiver and has stepped into his dad’s big shoes before. Like his famous father, Carter began his collegiate career at Ohio State, Cris’ alma mater. Duron had 13 catches for 176 yards and a touchdown in his first season, but that’s where the fairy tale part of Duron’s story takes a turn.
He became academically ineligible at Ohio State and transferred to Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, where he had 44 catches for 690 yards and 10 touchdowns. He later spent time at Alabama and Florida Atlantic but never played football at either school.
“A whole bunch of things,” Carter said when defining his admitted “checkered” past. “I’m just trying to get past it and move for greater things.”
Which is one reason he ended up in Minnesota. The Vikings called after the draft hoping to bring Carter in on a tryout basis. The Baltimore Ravens also called for a tryout. Carter said it was “50-50” in choosing between Minnesota and Baltimore, but he decided to follow his dad’s trail again.
“I’d say what made me go with the Vikings is (wide receivers coach George) Stewart and his success with former wide receivers and everything,” Carter said. “My sort of checkered past coming in, I figure he could help me a lot.”
Duron also got some advice from his father before starting camp.
“Just be myself,” Duron said his dad told him. “You can’t be Cris Carter. I can only be Duron Carter.”
The Vikings are hoping he can maybe channel some of what his father brought to the field.
“He’s got great size,” Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier said. “I mean, that sticks out. He has good hands and moves well. We’ll see how he does throughout this weekend. He had a good first practice. We’ll see what he does the rest of the weekend.”
Nothing is promised to Carter and he hasn’t made the road easy for himself. But he’s not giving up.
“This is the dream, to play in the NFL,” Carter said. “So as hard as I can, this is my dream, this is my one chance to get it, so I’m going to go get it.”