It's been almost two years since Brian Carter last donned a set of football pads and he can't wait to do it again.
In the time since he played his last game for Lakeridge High School, Carter has mostly sat and watched others play football while he waited for his surgically repaired throwing arm to heal. During that time, Carter discovered that he would much rather be playing than watching.
He is still having problems with the arm, which was severely injured during the 2004 rivalry game against Lake Oswego, but it has healed enough for him to turn out for football this fall at Chapman University in Southern California.
'Having pads on for the first time in two years is going to be kind of weird,' Carter said as he prepared for the start of summer practice, which begins next Monday.
Carter, who earned second-team all-TRL honors as a junior, will be one of five quarterbacks at Chapman, which is a Division III school. The team's new coach, Bob Owens, has told Carter that he has a decent chance to earn some playing time in what will be his redshirt freshman season.
'My goal is to be the second string quarterback by the start of the season,' Carter said. 'I think it's a pretty realistic goal after talking to my coach.'
It's never been a question of whether Carter wanted to play football, but whether he was physically able to. The injury he suffered in that Lake Oswego game easily could have ended his career.
The hard hit he receieved tore a muscle and ruptured the tendon connected to the right elbow joint. To repair the damaged tendon, Dr. Bob Sotta, who played quarterback for the Lakers in the late 1960s and early 70s, had to take a graft from one of Carter's hamstring tendons.
The injury had healed well enough by last fall that Carter considered playing at Redlands, which plays in Chapman's league. But he opted not go there after the coach invited 12 quarterbacks to try out when initially it was claimed there would only be four.
Instead of going to Redlands, Carter enrolled at the University of Oregon, where many of his friends from Lakeridge were going to school. For a while, he had considered walking on with the Ducks but the coaches there seemed uninterested in an undersized quarterback (he's 6-foot and weighs 170) who was coming off an injury.
'I think if I hadn't gotten injured I could have walked on (at Oregon) or played somewhere else,' Carter said.
As an alternative, Carter played every intramural sport he could find at U of O. In the fall, he played on a football team that was undefeated until it was forced to forfeit its final games because of a lack of players. In the spring, he played four sports - soccer, softball, frisbee and dodgeball.
'It was fun,' Carter said when asked about his full athletic schedule. 'And I needed to do something competitive.'
After Carter's repaired arm survived a year of marathon-like sports activity, he felt he was ready to play college football. So Carter started shopping himself around and Chapman and Puget Sound in Tacoma were the schools that showed the most interest. He picked Chapman, which went 2-7 last year, because of California's warmer climate.
Carter then participated in some of the top football camps in the area, but after a while he discovered he could only throw about three times a week without making his arm really sore. Then he discovered that the nerve that runs down the inside of the arm was loose and it 'snapped' every time he threw a hard pass. 'Then my fingers would go numb,' Carter said.
But doctors have told him that there's little fear of doing long-term damage, as long as he pays heed to the warning signal and stops throwing for a while after the fingers go numb. However, another surgery might be required after this season ends to take care of the nerve problem.
During the times he was unable to throw at the camps, Carter often played wide receiver and he played well enough there that he knows he could do it again in college, if needed.
'My main focus is playing quarterback, but if my only position can be receiver, then I'll do it,' he said.
The important thing is Carter will be playing football once more.
'I just want to be playing again,' he said. 'And I'm not going to do anything to hurt myself.'