Mike Archie still laughs at the recollection. It was the winter of
1991, and Archie, a senior at Sharon (Pa.) High, was making his
recruiting visit to Penn State. He was at a campus party, talking
with another recruit, a kid from Columbus, Ohio, named Ki-Jana
Carter. Their conversation went something like this.
Archie: ''What position do you play?''
Carter: ''Tailback. What position do you play?''
Archie: ''Tailback, too. Are you coming here?''
Carter: ''I don't know. Are you coming here?''
''We were just going back and forth,'' says Archie. ''Then I went
back home, and my coach told me what a big name Ki-Jana Carter was.''
No matter, Archie liked Penn State and committed. Little did Archie
and Carter know that their first strained meeting would produce a
close friendship -- and the astounding depth of the Penn State
offensive arsenal as well.
That depth was evident in the Lions' 61-21 rout of Iowa. Although
in the first two games Carter had established himself as Penn State's
No. 1 running back (in 1993 sophomores Carter, Archie and Stephen
Pitts had been listed as co-starters) and, in fact, as one of the
best offensive players in the country, it was Archie who scored three
touchdowns against the Hawkeyes.
The trouncing of Iowa went a ways toward answering the question,
How deep could Penn State go on its depth chart and still ring up
half a hundred points? In three games the Nittany Lions had scored a
total of 155 points, and they had barely tried after halftime. The
cumulative score at the half was 115-10. Against the Hawkeyes, Carter
rushed for only 89 yards, Kerry Collins passed for just 98, and
junior wideout Bobby Engram caught only two passes.
Into this void rushed Archie. He ran six times for 55 yards,
caught two passes for 25 yards and returned the opening kickoff 44
yards. After the game, when coach Joe Paterno was queried about why
Carter wasn't getting 30 carries a game, he said, ''Because it gives
me a chance to get Archie in the game.'' Of his role as a backup in
the Lions' offensive machine, Archie said, ''I don't necessarily have
to carry the ball. I just like to be out there helping out.''
All season, Archie and Carter would make a formidable team on and
off the field. Archie spent many nights playing video games in the
campus apartment that Carter shared with Engram and two other
teammates. And when Carter's apartment was overrun with family and
friends, Carter sought sanctuary in Archie's room.
Any discomfort from that first awkward conversation has long since
disappeared. Says Archie, ''Once we all got here together, we decided
we wanted to go undefeated and win a national championship before we
This is an article from the Jan. 18, 1995 issue