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Friday, January 25, 2013
Coaches' take: Reggie Carter

By David Ching

ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia’s defensive coaches love when prospects show positional versatility, so Reggie Carter is a natural fit for the Bulldogs’ 3-4 scheme.

While ESPN projects him as an inside linebacker, Carter’s well-rounded high school career saw him rush the passer at outside linebacker and even contribute at defensive end.

“He’s a kid that can play inside, outside, anywhere,” said John Small, who coached Carter for the last two years at South Gwinnett High School in Snellville, Ga. “You can play him inside, you can put him on the tackle and rush him, you can bump him out and play him in space inside the No. 2 receiver. The kid can do a lot of things.”

That’s what prompted Georgia’s coaching staff to stick with Carter as a prospect even when he lost nearly his entire junior season to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. The native Floridian had already impressed them as an Atlanta-area sophomore at Stephenson High School before transferring to South Gwinnett and Bulldogs defensive coordinator said Carter “got better as the season went along” in his return from the injury as a senior.

Carter is one of four inside linebackers who have committed to Georgia. He joined Ryne Rankin (Orlando, Fla./East River) among the Bulldogs’ January enrollees, giving them an opportunity to participate in spring practice and attempt to claim some of the available playing time at linebacker this fall.

“Him getting here early will be a big advantage for him, not only from learning the system, but the strength and conditioning aspect of it, too,” Grantham said. “He can play either inside linebacker position and he is athletic enough to play outside if needed. So he’s a multiple-type player that’s got size, can run, can hit and I’m looking forward to working with him in the spring.”

Small said it’s more than just Carter’s combination of size (6-foot-1, 225 pounds) and tackling ability that will enable him to juggle multiple roles in college if asked. He said the linebacker also has a mind for the game and intellectual curiosity that will help him excel in college.

“He tries to understand the game. He doesn’t just go out there and play,” Small said. “He wants to know what you do, why you do it, what the guy next to him’s supposed to be doing. He’s just a student of the game and I think he’s going to continue to have a knowledge of the game when he gets there and he gets around those guys, as well.”

Small also credited his former player for his presence as a leader at South Gwinnett by displaying a consistent work ethic and reliable character.

“He’s a kid that you’re not going to read about getting in trouble,” Small said. “You’re only going to hear positive things about him because he handles his business in the classroom, he works his butt off and has got a ton of character. He’s a guy that college football will be proud to have playing college football because he’s going to represent the University of Georgia in a great way in the way he handles his business.”

But despite his high praise for Carter’s time in his program, Small still believes Georgia wanted him because of his as-yet-untapped potential. He’ll be nearly two years removed from the knee injury when the 2013 season begins, and Small believes his production will only continue to grow as he redevelops confidence in the knee’s stability.

“As good as he was as a senior, his best ball’s ahead of him because he’s going to be two years removed from the knee surgery, two years of rehabbing and getting healthier and stronger,” Small said. “So I think the sky’s the limit for this kid and what he can do.”