Carter a triple threat for Bama

Antonio Carter is likely to be Alabama's leader both as a punt return and kickoff return man in 2002. The senior wide receiver from Rickards High School in Tallahassee, Florida, is no stranger to that job. He began his football career as a kick return man in his sophomore year in high school. And he has been back on both punts and kickoffs at Alabama.

By the end of last season, A.C. had become the primary punt return man. He finished the season with 20 returns for 138 yards with a long runback of 20 yards. Last year he had seven kickoff returns for 156 yards, an average of 22.3 yards per return with a long effort of 50 yards (against Vanderbilt).

Carter is also looking forward to doing some maneuvering as a wide receiver. With veterans Jason McAddley and Freddie Milons departed, Carter thinks he fills the void in production and leadership within the receivers corps.

"I see myself as a leader of that group," Carter said. "I'm a senior, I've played behind some good guys, and I've played with some good guys. Sam (senior receiver Sam Collins) and I have been through the storm. We have seen the good side and the bad side. Part of our job is to lead those other guys."

Carter stretches for extra yardage.

And Carter has been a quality receiver. For his career he has pulled in 106 passes for 1,294 yards (12.2 yards per catch) and five touchdowns. He was Bama's leading receiver as a sophomore in 2000 with 45 catches for 586 yards. However, it is probably a game in his freshman year for which he is most remembered. In an upset of Florida in Gainesville, A.C. had nine receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown.

There will be a few new wrinkles in Tide coach Dennis Franchione's offense this year. Carter said Franchione's complex offense can't be picked up overnight.

"We have a very big playbook. Your job as a player is to study. If you don't know what to do, you can't go out there. You have to study your playbook each and every night. If not, it's going to be hard."

Carter said the offense puts a lot of trust in the quarterback, and the offense must often juggle more than play in each huddle.

"Our offense is fun to play in, but you always have to be aware of what's going on around you, because the quarterback can check off at any time. We might have several plays called in the huddle."

Even if the offense plays well and the defense rebounds from a rocky 2001 campaign, it's likely the Tide won't play in a post-season bowl game because of NCAA sanctions.

That doesn't bother Carter.

"We don't care about anything we can't control," he said. "We're going to have a very good football team this year. That's what's important to us. Each other. This team. This family. That's what we are; we're a family."

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