The Big 12 just got a little bit larger

Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Hephzibah senior James Carpenter, 17, signed a national-letter-of-intent to play football for Iowa State. The offensive tackle also received offers from Alabama A&M, Western Kentucky and Georgia Southern.

The high temperature reached 10 degrees Wednesday afternoon in Ames, Iowa. With the wind chill, it felt like minus-3.


None of that mattered to Hephzibah offensive tackle James Carpenter. He's happy to call Iowa State his new home after officially signing with the school at a brief ceremony.

"I'm not worried about (the weather)," he said. "I'll get a big coat."

He'll need a big coat.

The 6-foot-5, 302-pound Carpenter received offers from Alabama A&M, Georgia Southern and Western Kentucky. He said picking Iowa State of the Big 12 Conference was an easy choice.

"It's Division I," he said. "It's the Big 12."

It was an emotional day for the Carpenter family as parents, James Sr. and Geraldine, watched their son sign the official papers in front of friends and coaches in Hephzibah's media center.

"It's a very happy day for me," said the elder Carpenter, who recalled past days when he used to play football in the front yard with his son. "It's something good my wife and I had been hoping would happen for him. Continuing his education is very important."

Georgia Southern originally took interest in Carpenter last summer. When a coaching change was made in the off-season, Eagles offensive line coach Scott Fountain took a job with Iowa State.

He retained his interest in Carpenter. And the coaching staff soon became sold on a lineman who can run the 40 in 5.02 seconds.

Carpenter now joins an Iowa State team that finished last in the Big 12 North Division with a 4-8 record. He said he's happy to be a part of the rebuilding process.

"They got some new coaches," he said. "They're going to make some changes."

Carpenter has yet to academically qualify for Iowa State.

Hephzibah coach John Bowen said Carpenter's near meeting collegiate requirements.

"He knows what he's got to do," Bowen said. "He's close."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or


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