Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Iowa Pig Farmer Jordan Carstens Could Start Sunday for Panthers

Jordan Carstens was one of my favorite football players when he lettered at Iowa State from 2000-2003.

He came to school without a football scholarship, but earned one after gaining the respect of coach Dan McCarney and his teammates.

Whatever he accomplished, he got with hard work.

Now Carstens, who owns a pig farm in Iowa with his brother and cousin, could get his first start at defensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Here's the story written by David Newton of The State in Columbia, S.C. The story was provided by

The State [Columbia, S.C.]

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - When he was at Iowa State, Jordan Carstens purchased a pig farm with his brother and cousin as a backup plan if his football career didn't pan out.

The pig farmer now is a part of the Carolina Panthers' backup plan at defensive tackle.

Carstens will team with Kindal Moorehead to fill the shoes of two-time Pro Bowler Kris Jenkins, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sunday's 23-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

He could get his first start Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

Sooooo-eeeeey! What a challenge.

But Carstens feels up to it. In many ways, he already has beaten the odds by earning a scholarship after walking on in college and earning an NFL paycheck after being overlooked in the draft.

"That's that hard work ethic you get from working on a pig farm," said defensive end Mike Rucker, who grew up around pig farms in Missouri.

"It's not sitting behind a counter with an air conditioner.

"That's a whole different kind of work when you're outside with animals and waking up at the crack of dawn."

Carstens is ribbed by his teammates about his other job. Defensive tackle Brentson Buckner tells the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder he is the cleanest pig farmer he has ever seen.

Buckner recalled that when he arrived at Carolina a year ago, Carstens couldn't wait to finish minicamps so he could go back to the farm.

"He's like, `After we have our meeting I'm hopping in my truck and driving back to Iowa and going to the farm,' " he said. "He loves it, waking up at 4 o'clock in the morning and doing what he has to do.

That's his life.

"You can take the boy out of the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy." Carstens owns about 4,500 acres near his home in Bagley, Ia. He raises approximately 25,000 pigs a year, which is approximately 734 pigs per resident in the town of 354.

His workday begins before the sun rises and ends after it sets. Between feeding his investments until they are 250 pounds and taking them to market to be sold, there is always something to do.

"It's just something I've done ever since I was a kid," said Carstens, whose father was a pig farmer. "Being out of it for a while, you kind of miss it. It's something I love doing." Carstens hopes to soften the blow the Panthers suffered when they lost Jenkins, their best run-stopper.

Carstens felt a lot more comfortable than he did a year ago, when he was brought up from the practice squad to help replace Jenkins, who missed the final 12 games with a shoulder injury.

"Everybody is so fast out there; you don't have time to think," Carstens said. "You've just got to have instincts." Carstens was on the field when Carolina made its 6-2 run at the end of last season to nearly make the playoffs.

"He knows what he's doing," Rucker said.

Or, as Buckner put it, he "goes to work, takes a shower, goes home, wakes up the next day and comes back and does the same thing over again.

"Just like a pig farmer."