As a sophomore at Stephenson High School, Reggie Carter (Snellville, Ga./South Gwinnett) beat out 2011 Mississippi State signee Preston Smith for the starting defensive end job midway through the season, en route to 73 tackles and 10.5 sacks. More than 10 college programs, including Alabama, FSU and Michigan, had offered Carter before he transferred to South Gwinnett in the summer, and in the season opener he was anxious to show he could lead the Comets against Lowndes, one of the top programs in the Southeast.
Then it happened.
“I knew it was bad but I did not think it was bad because when the doctor was pulling on it on the sidelines it did not feel like it was torn or anything,” Carter said. “But then when we got the MRI that said I tore my ACL, it was a sad moment. My dad told me to stop crying and look forward to the positive.”
Since then Carter has been working hard to get back on the field. Frustrated with his setback but determined to contribute for South Gwinnett last fall, he helped the coaches with making defensive calls and reading the offense.
Just last week, he was told to call Bryan McClendon, his area recruiter for the University of Georgia.
“He told me he wanted me to come up to Athens on Friday, and everything about the trip was great,” Carter said. “I spoke to the inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, Coach McClendon and the head coach Mark Richt.”
Then Carter got some news he had not received since he was hurt last fall.
“They said they saw my sophomore film and a little bit of what I did before I got hurt and they liked my versatility,” Carter said. “Coach Richt told me they liked me and he then said he wanted to offer me a full scholarship to the University of Georgia. That was big because not only was it the first offer from a head coach, it was also the first offer since my injury.”
Carter did his best to hide his emotions from the Bulldogs’ head coach, but his attempt was short-lived.
“Like everybody you are happy but you do not want to show it, but then he told a joke,” Carter. “It was not funny, but because he offered me I wanted to get that excitement out. I busted out laughing before he even got the joke finished.”
Georgia offered Carter as an inside linebacker, and he likes the thought of playing for the Bulldogs.
“They are in great shape, Georgia is in really good shape right now,” Carter said. “I love the campus, love the coaching staff. I like the 3-4 system, and I loved what they were telling me about how they run their defense. They did not sign any inside linebackers last year, so that gives them an edge. I talked with my family and we would like to get my decision out of the way before the season.”
While getting the offer likely made his day, something else about his trip to Athens stood out to Carter. In recent months his sentiments have been echoed by several other prominent recruits who have spent time on campus at Georgia.
“My favorite part about the visit was the East Campus Village dining area,” Carter said. “That food was unbelievable and I loved it.”
The trainer at Georgia recommended that Carter go through his drills in spring practice but not full contact. Carter hopes to be 100 percent by fall.