The Freak is Back

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – You often hear of weight room warriors that never make the transition to the playing field or average athletes that shine under the bright lights. Bruce Carter is one of those few individuals that excels in both areas and has built a ridiculous resume along the way.

Many years from now, Carter's grandchildren will have plenty of material available to generate an intriguing debate concerning the abilities of their grandfather. What's more impressive – Carter's string of four straight blocked kicks in '08, an unprecedented feat in modern FBS history, or his 211.5 power quotient in the weight room, thanks to a 440-pound bench, 405-pound power clean, 600-pound squat, 37 ½-inch vertical jump, 10-2 broad jump, and a 4.39 40-yard dash?

Go ahead and read that last sentence one more time, just to let those statistics soak in.

No wonder Mel Kiper ranks the 6-foot-3, 238-pounder as the No. 1 senior outside linebacker prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Carter earned second-team All-ACC honors last season after posting 65 tackles, 7.5 tackles for losses, two sacks and one interception return for a touchdown. The Havelock, N.C. native was open during his freshman season about making plays simply on athleticism and instinct as conquering the playbook was still a monster task.

He has long since locked onto the concepts that are a trademark of a Butch Davis defense, thinking more about the hazards involved in a certain situation instead of just running to the ball. Second-year linebackers coach Art Kaufman has also opened Carter's eyes to the intrinsic value of details.

"When Art first came in, it was kind of hard to get used to him because we were used to [Tommy] Thigpen," Carter admitted. "But with Art, he's very focused on detail and technique, making sure you make your reads and don't waste any steps. It helped to slow our game down so that we could read first and then react. I think he's done a good job with that."

The Havelock, N.C. native has never been one to boast about his accomplishments. Instead, the 2010 Nagurski and Butkus Award Candidate would rather talk about his team's goals for the '10 season.

"We want to go to a big bowl game and just win something, at least," Carter said. "I feel like we've made huge strides in getting here, but we've always been one step [short] from getting that ultimate goal. We've just got to win, man."

In order to make that next step, this veteran North Carolina squad took steps during the offseason to claim the program as its own, something that Davis has preached about since arriving in Chapel Hill four years ago.

"We're really taking ownership of the team," Carter said. "We're coaching the young guys up, because once we leave, Carolina has to have a future. For the most part, we've taken what we've done over the past three years and tried to take ownership and coach the young guys because at the end of the day, the coaches want to win, but it's really up to us."

Tar Heel fans can take comfort in knowing that this UNC defense returns nine starters for the second straight season, including the return of all three starting linebackers in Carter, Quan Sturdivant and Kevin Reddick. There is a depth concern across the board, simply because the backups haven't played enough to garner any significant attention, but Carter feels confident the fan base will like what it sees on the depth chart at linebacker.

"I think the depth is coming around pretty good," Carter said. "With the linebackers, we've got a couple of guys in Herman Davidson, Dion Guy and Ebele [Okakpu] – they've made huge strides since last year. They're like night and day."

If Carter has proven anything during his flashy career at North Carolina, it's that nothing he does should ever surprise you. Now, as one final encore, the senior linebacker is looking to deliver one last revelation in the form of team success on the field.

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