By Pete Nakos
OhioBobcats.com Feature Writer
ATHENS, Ohio -- When T.J. Carrie was asked what he cherished most about his time spent with the Ohio University football team, he was able to answer the question within five seconds.
The day before every home game, the team goes to a local movie theater. For 90 to 120 minutes, the team sits there and watches a movie.
Head coach Frank Solich has made moviegoing a weekly tradition at Ohio.
"I think that it really allowed us to come together as one," Carrie said. "So when we were on the field, we were able to play for our brothers. I think that's one of the best attributes you can have, that team cohesion. That one just really made a difference."
It's the little things that Carrie liked about Ohio and Solich, such as watching a movie together as a team. It's the little things that have brought him success as a cornerback in the NFL, too.
He's always had to pay attention to the little things in the NFL as a player for the Oakland Raiders. He was a seventh round selection in the draft, Solich worked hard just to get him into the combine.
Carrie knows that everyday as a Raider he has to get better in some sort of way, he can't take playing in the NFL for granted.
"It's something I have to work towards everyday," he said. "To become better then you were the day before. I try to do something extra everyday to move myself ahead than where I was the day before."
During his time at Ohio, Carrie appeared in 50 games with 36 starts, contributing on defense and special teams. He totaled 165 tackles, nine interceptions, 36 passes defended three sacks and two forced fumbles over his career. He also served as the team's punt returner, racking up 659 return yards on 56 returns with a touchdown.
But for Solich, it isn't the statistics that he remembers about Carrie, it's the things he helped accomplish when he was a Bobcat. He helped Solich lead Ohio to two Mid-American Conference Championship berths. In 2011, he was a key member of a team that won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, the first bowl win in program history.
"He's a special young man in terms of how he goes about things," Solich said. "Not only is he a really good football player, he's a really good person. He's a bright young man. Those sorts of things add up, no matter what you're doing in life, to help you be successful. I'm really happy for him."
Carrie certainly hasn't forgotten about Ohio, either. He made a visit back to Athens this past March, spending the day with Solich and defensive coordinator Jimmy Burrow. They got lunch and traded old stories. A picture of Carrie and Solich surfaced on Twitter, with the coach wearing a Raiders polo.
In hindsight, Carrie's impact on Ohio has been monumental. He entered college in 2008 and for the four seasons he played, the Bobcats had a winning record every season except 2008, when as a freshman they went 4-8. Until this past NFL Draft, he was the most recent draft pick from Ohio.
He's also thankful that Solich took a chance on him. Playing at Ohio instilled a chip on his shoulder and without the chip on his shoulder, he wouldn't of paid such close attention to the little things.
The little things, which led to him being an NFL draft pick.
"There's always the people who think you're too small, or not fast enough," he said. "That your abilities aren't to other people's standards. People don't realize the struggle you go through and face. The time you put into work, they don't know your true heart. How hard you want something.
"Having that chip on your shoulder always keeps you level-headed and always makes you feel uncomfortable, never makes you feel comfortable in the situation you're in. Once you get comfortable, that's when your abilities start to diminish. "