Keldrick Carper wanted to release a top group of contenders.
Spring let the four-star athlete from Plain Dealing, La., get a better idea of programs with serious interest. That was no simple task given Carper sits on dozens of scholarship offers from programs all across the country.
But after taking several factors into consideration, Carper has landed on a top four: Arkansas, Miami, Notre Dame and Texas A&M.
“All of them are telling me that when I come in I’m family,” Carper said. “All their football stuff and school and all that, at the end of the day they’re preaching to me, ‘We’re family over here.’ That’s very important to me. That’s one thing they all have. They all kind of have different traits besides that that would attract me to them. But that’s the one thing they all share. They all have a family-based program.”
Carper also holds offers from Arizona, Baylor, Georgia, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech, among others.
There’s still a chance a program not currently in the top four could surge into contention. Either way, Carper feels comfortable with the current group. He spoke on each in-depth:
Arkansas: They have an excellent recruiter in coach (Michael) Smith, the receivers coach. He recruits the Louisiana area. He’s a great guy. He’s one of the coolest guys you would talk to. He knows the game. He’s played it. He recruited me for receiver initially. I told him I wanted to play defense on the next level. He told me, ‘Hey, we’re gonna take you on that side as well. We’ll take you on whatever side you wanna go. We want you here.’ That just let me know that I’m wanted there. I got a chance to talk to coach (Bret Bielema), the head coach. I’m gonna try to go up there for a visit soon. And I talked to the defensive coordinator a couple days ago over the phone. It’s a close spot, not too far but far enough. It’s a nice town in Fayetteville and it’s in the SEC so you get to play against big-time competition. I know they have my degree as well in African studies. Those things put them in my top four.
Miami: Coach (Mark) Richt, me and him probably have the best relationship. Well, I wouldn’t say the best but I would say we have a great relationship from head coach to recruit. Me and him have been talking since Day 1 when they offered me. There for awhile we talked almost every Sunday over the phone. We would just talk about everything. He’s a great guy. He has faith. He's gonna change that program, he says. He has something planned down there at Miami that would be great to be a part of. And it’s Miami. It’s got everything you’d want as a recruit to live. It’s a place you wanna live. Has my degree as well, my major and everything. One thing Miami always does, they send people off to the NFL, which is another reason why. And their coaching staff has been on me. They recruit me pretty hard.
Notre Dame: The day they offered me I said, ‘They’re gonna be in the running until the end because it’s Notre Dame.’ You say that name and it has so much meaning behind it. It’s hard to pass up an opportunity like that, to attend a school like that. It’s hard. It’s extremely hard. Just with that and I’ve had a chance to talk to coach (Brian) Kelly and coach (Todd) Lyght, the DB coach and coach (Brian) VanGorder, the defensive coordinator. All of them are great guys. Coach VanGorder came down to see me personally and coach Lyght. That’s like, ‘OK, I know they’re serious. They’re sending down the defensive coordinator. They’re real serious. It’s not even his area to recruit.’ Once they sent him down it was like, ‘OK, yeah. I need to consider them because they love me and I love them.’ We’ll see where it goes. Those little things put them in and I’ve heard South Bend is a pretty nice place to live and everything.
Texas A&M: Me and coach (Terry) Joseph, the DB coach, me and him probably have the best relationship of any coach overall at any school I’ve talked to. He’s a great guy, knows his stuff. He believes in me. He believes I can come in there and help, along with coach (Kevin) Sumlin, they both think I can come in and help lead them to a national championship soon. That’s their goal this year as well as if I was to attend A&M. That’s the standard once I would get there. They have a lot of faith in me. They love my ability and most of all they love me as a person. They think I’m a great person. Their facilities are top notch. Their facilities are probably the best in the nation. When you have family, great coaching staff and facilities and jerseys and all that stuff, it’s hard to turn down a place like that.
Next up for the 6-foot-3, 185-pound prospect is summer visits. Texas A&M will get Carper on campus next weekend. He hopes to then visit Arkansas either later this month or in July. He also plans to visit Notre Dame in July.
Miami likely won’t get a trip this summer. He’ll instead use an official visit come fall.
Carper feels like making one visit to each place should yield enough information to make a verbal pledge. Right now a commitment date is fluid pending the visits.
“I’ll do my research,” Carper said. “It takes me just one time to see the campus and everything. That’s what the official visits would be about. It’s about seeing the campus and about being able to spend one-on-one time with the coaches and everything and the players. It’ll take me just one time for each of the schools, honestly. I know I’m a very observing person. I’ve talked to these guys for almost a year now, so I know what they’re about. They’re not just gonna show me something fake once I get in person with them.
“I know it’s gonna take me just one time. That’s all I really need. But it’s possible I could visit some of those schools I’m highly interested in once more, once or twice more.”
Carper already knows what he’ll do to maximize each trip. Then it will be time to think over all the information he’s collected.
“I’m gonna be going to the players,” he said. “I’m going to the players and asking them from their perspective why they chose that school and why I should choose them. Then I’m gonna talk with the coaches and the head coach one-on-one and make sure they’re gonna be there for sure, they’re gonna be coaching me for sure. Then I’ll just be observing everything and make sure they have my major and my majoring program is good. I’ll be researching the post-graduate salary of students that graduate that school. Those things are what I’ll be looking at once I go make these visits.”