Despite early scholarship offers from schools like Virginia, Virginia Tech, Alabama and South Carolina, tight end Mario Carter (6-4, 220 pounds) decided to cast his lot with NC State early last spring.
After a stellar junior season that saw Carter snag 22 catches for 309 yards and six touchdowns, much was expected of the three-star tight end headed into his senior season. However, a devastating knee injury derailed those plans and Carter has spent the last several months focused on getting healthy and academics.
As for the Pack, they never wavered in their loyalty to Carter despite the injury and hosted him this past weekend on an official visit. He told Pack Pride that the visit went great and he was particularly impressed with his individual meetings with the coaching staff.
"It was awesome," said Carter. "We were talking about my knee and how well that's coming along. I got to go to the dorms and meet all my new teammates. We also got to see the basketball game.
"My meetings went well with the coaches. Coach O'Brien was just telling me to stay on top of my grades and stay on the honor roll. Coach Bridge talked about what my role would be in their offensive system. We went over some film and watched what the tight ends were doing."
As for that knee, Pack Pride reported a few weeks ago that Carter had been told by the doctors that his rehabilitation appeared to be ahead of schedule. With that news in mind, Carter said that he has no plans of riding the bench in 2008.
"My knee is doing great," he said. "I'm definitely going to see the field next year. There's not going to be a redshirt for me because I'm planning to play as a freshman."
The time away from the football field in 2007 also gave Carter a chance to really focus on academics and he was obviously proud of what he was able to accomplish.
"My semester went really well. I had to study hard to get my grades where they needed to be so I could be cleared for NC State. Nothing would matter if I didn't do what was needed in the classroom. I came out with a 3.5 GPA."
Scout.com rated Carter as the No. 26 tight end in the nation.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 there. 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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