If familiarity really does breed contempt, there will be plenty to go around when Ohio faces Marshall this weekend.
While many Bobcats will be facing Marshall for the third time in their careers, redshirt freshman safety Nathan Carpenter has faced one member of Saturday’s opponent countless times before.
Nathan’s brother, George, is a senior linebacker for Marshall. While the two often squared off in the backyard, this will be their first time going head-to-head on the field.
“I’m definitely excited,” Nathan said. “Before I came to Athens, I would go to Marshall all the time and hang out with their players, so I’ve got a bunch of friends on that team along with my brother.”
The fact that two Carpenters will be on the same field at the same time should come as no surprise for those who are familiar with the family.
Their father, Rob, played college ball for rival Miami University and enjoyed a 10-year NFL career with the Houston Oilers, New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams.
Bobby, the oldest of the four Carpenter sons, was a two-time All-Big Ten linebacker at Ohio State from 2002 to 2005. A first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2006, Bobby is now a member of the Detroit Lions.
The second-oldest son, Jon, played linebacker at Cincinnati and is currently a graduate assistant at Notre Dame.
Growing up in a household of men, Nathan said things could get a bit rough at times.
“We would always get in fights and arguments at home, so as the youngest, I had to be a tough kid growing up,” he said. “My brothers taught me to be tough.”
The brothers have always been competitive, George said, and they will carry that to the field on Saturday.
“No one ever wanted to lose at anything,” George said. “There was a lot of testosterone flowing, so if someone would get upset it could turn into a brawl.”
But the toughness Nathan learned helped him develop as a football player, as one of his brothers was always around to help.
“I had the privilege of all the football talent and all the advice I could get in the world,” Nathan said.
Although he chose the rival school to his father’s alma mater, Nathan said his dad is always there to support him.
“When we play Miami he’s obviously going to root for me because I’m his son, but he always likes Miami and hopes they do well every year,” Nathan said. “He’s definitely on my side now.”
Along with the advice came pressure to succeed. Nathan said he wanted to replicate his brothers’ success despite his 5-foot-9, 184-pound frame.
“Everyone thought I was the Carpenter who probably wouldn’t be able to do it because of my size,” he said.” “But I was determined to not let that happen because I didn’t want to let down my family and I wanted to accomplish something for myself.”
The Carpenter-on-Carpenter match is a first for Nathan, but not for the rest of his family.
With Bobby at Ohio State and Jon at Cincinnati, the Buckeyes and Bearcats faced off in the opening game of the 2004 season. Ohio State won, 27-6.
With Jon as a graduate assistant at Cincinnati in 2008, his team played Marshall during George’s freshman season. The Bearcats came away with the 33-10 win.
Special teams play might allow Nathan and George, who both play defense, to line up against each other.
Nathan is on the kickoff and punt-return units for Ohio, and George plays during Marshall’s kickoff returns and punts.
There will be enough Carpenters in attendance to rebuild Noah’s ark. Whether the family members in attendance wear hunter or kelly green remains to be seen, though.
“They said they were going to stick with the green and white, but I guess they’ll have to pick the light green or the dark green,” Nathan said. “They’ll be neutral and hoping for a 0-0 game since we both play defense.”
While the brothers said they talk about once a week, George said this week’s talk has been strictly “brother talk” and not football-related. In the final Carpenter family college matchup, both said they want to go out on top.
“I hope to go out with a win. That’s all I can ask for,” George said. “Ohio is a good team. We’ve beaten them twice, and both times they’ve been a tough opponent.
“This game will be bragging rights for life.”