After tallying 22 catches for 309 yards and six touchdowns as a junior and establishing himself as a major cog in the Independence High School rushing attack, TE Mario Carter was expected to solidify himself as one of the state's top prospects in 2007. However, a serious knee injury suffered during a scrimmage resulted in a torn ACL and MCL- effectively ending the three-star's senior season before it ever began.
Instead of making plays on the gridiron, Carter has spent the last several months undergoing the grueling rehabilitation process that has become all too common for football players. However, his hard work has paid off and he finds himself ahead of the doctor's schedule. For the first time in a while, there's finally light at the end of the tunnel.
"Everything is going great," said Carter. "I'm doing rehab every day. I'm on the bike every day. I've been able to do some leg presses and I've continued working out my upper body. The doctor's told me I'm ahead of schedule and I should be back to 100% in January."
While Independence has uncharacteristically suffered through two losses this season, that has made Carter's job of being an observer even harder. However, he has tried to make the most out of a difficult situation.
"It's been very tough but it's something that I just had to get over," he said. "The thing I tried to focus on was helping the other players at my position and coach them to help them do what I had been doing out there."
Still a solid commitment to the Wolfpack, Carter had a chance to experience first hand one of NC State's high points of the season a few weeks back when he attended the UNC game.
"I just loved the atmosphere there," he said. "It actually made me want to go put on a uniform and get out there and play myself. I talked to coach Bridge and he was basically asking me if I was getting ready. But those fans stood out. We get a lot of love down here at Independence but I haven't seen anything like that."
CARTER QUOTE: "I didn't think that other colleges could be right for me. Another school may be a great organization for somebody else, but I thought that this was right for me an my family. That's something Coach O'Brien always talks about - family, your organization, and then football.
"I liked the organization of the practices by Coach O'Brien and what he was saying to me. I love that he puts education first, he throws first to the tight ends, and he loves the physical guys. That's what we do here at Independence. They want everything done the right way instead of taking the shortcut.
"The offenses are similar how they use the tight ends, the two tight sets. It is a great fit for me right htere. I didn't want to go to the SEC because they don't throw to the tight end that much."
COACH QUOTE: "He is very aggressive, a real competitor. He wants to win, and never wants to come off the field. He has room to grow (physically). We've tried him a little on defense, but he'll play tight end." -- Independence Head Coach Tommy Knotts
SCOUTING REPORT: "Mario is a very well-coached, athletic tight end with a world of potential. The Indepenence offense revolves around his ability to block on the edge and create a seam for the running backs. The back-breaking tight end screens are well suited to Carter's ability to make solid grabs and create some yards after the catch." -- Scout.com Recruiting Analyst Miller Safrit
Jr. Film: #87 TE Mario Carter -- Video 1 --
Jr. Film: #87 TE Mario Carter -- Video 2 --
Jr. Film: #87 TE Mario Carter -- Video 3 --
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