Tim Carter, who not that long ago was expecting 2002 to be his senior season, says that he will miss his teammates and friends in Auburn, but notes that he is excited about the future.
Tim Carter battles for yardage vs. Ole Miss.
"I think this is a real good opportunity for me with the Giants," he says. "They want to bring me in and give me an immediate look as their kick returner and work me into the playing rotation at wide receiver where they have a lot of veterans. I am not really surprised the Giants picked me because my agent (Pat Dye, Jr.) did some good research and he predicted it would be either the (Jacksonville) Jaguars or the Giants.
Carter says he set his sights on the NFL years ago, but expected he would have another season to prepare for the pros as a collegian. Prior to his senior year, six-foot, 200-pounder found out that his freshman season back in 1998 did not qualify for a medical hardship redshirt season because he played in too many games on special teams. That season, he split his time between wide receiver and the secondary.
"It is like I didn't have a junior year at all," Carter says. "I found out before the 2001 season that I was a senior because of the mixup. By then I had already been working hard to make myself a better, tougher football player. Fortunately, it looks like all of that has paid off."
Carter arrived on campus as a skinny speedster from Lakewood High School, who got an offer from then assistant coach Jack Hines after another player who was expected to sign with the Tigers jumped ship less than a week before national signing day in 1998. Carter was known as an outstanding speedster and had been timed in a stunning 4.31 at a combine for high school players in Florida, however, he dislocated his kneecap in the third game of his senior season and that hurt his stock as a prospect. Despite that injury, Hines and former secondary coach and defensive coordinator Bill "Brother" Oliver liked Carter's potential and extended an offer.
The speedster split his time between cornerback and wide receiver as a freshman and admits it was a rough year adjusting to college. "I had a tough time dealing with the criticism I was getting from Coach Oliver," Carter says. "I was immature at the time, but what he was telling me were things that later helped me improve as a football player."
Carter says by the time he was a senior, he saw younger players going through the same thing and tried to help them make the adjustment. He says that Silas Daniels, a freshman on last year's team, is one player he talked to last season. "Silas really reminded me of myself in how he was having trouble adjusting to criticism from Coach (Greg) Knox. He was really struggling, but after I sat down and talked to him I think I really helped."
Carter says he tried hard to be a leader last season and was disappointed that the Tigers faded down the stretch, but says he feels good about the effort he put into the campaign. "I played hard and did whatever the coaches asked me to do," he says. "I really wanted to win the SEC Championship as a senior and really enjoyed being a part of last year's team. There are a lot of great people who were on that team.
Tim Carter makes a catch against the Wyoming Cowboys during the 2000 season.
"I also really like the coaches at Auburn. I give a lot of credit to them for helping me develop. Coach (Kevin Yoxall), in particular, was really good for me. Coach Yox really turned up the intensity in our conditioning program when he got here. It was like night and day, but I liked that because I have always been the type of guy who was doing extra workouts to get better. Coach Yox has been a big positive for our program and I was fortunate to play for people like Coach (Tommy) Tuberville and Coach Knox.
Carter was the 14th pick of the second round, the 46th player selected. With Auburn's passing game struggling his senior year, he didn't have a chance to showcase his skills as a receiver in 2001. However, he had a strong performance at the Senior Bowl in Mobile after impressing scouts in Senior Bowl practices. The pro scouts had already discovered him well before then, but that week of practice and the game really increased the interest. "I want to thank Steve Hale of the Senior Bowl for inviting me to the game and giving me a chance to show what I could," Carter says.
Then, at the NFL Combine, Carter averaged 4.33 in the 40-yard dash and after that became one of the hotter wide receiver prospects for the 2002 draft. "That is a fast time, but to be honest I really could have run faster," Carter says. "I was hoping to run something in the high 4.2s."
He is scheduled to report to New York on Thursday for orientation and says he is excited about the opportunity. "I will be in New York through Sunday and I will continue to work out to get ready for the season. I am not sure when training camp starts, but I am ready to go."
Tiger Ticket Extra: Carter's younger brother Pat is considered one of the top rising senior prospects in the state of Florida this year. Tim says that Pat is very interested in the Tigers, but AU has not offered a scholarship yet. "Pat is six-foot-three, 180 pounds and did great at the Nike Combine in Miami, where he was ranked as one of the top four quarterback prospects in the state," brother Tim notes. "Clemson has already offered him a scholarship and a lot of others are recruiting him like Notre Dame, Penn State and Miami."...Carter says he will miss his teammates in Auburn this year. "That defense is going to suffocating. The secondary is going to be very good and the linebackers will be fun to watch. Junior Rosegreen is a very physical athlete and he should do great at safety. The corners are going to be really good. Carlos Rogers is a big-timer and Roderick Hood has great speed."