"I have offers from Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Stanford, Nebraska and Indiana," Carter told The Bootleg in an exclusive interview Monday night. "I'm looking at Notre Dame, Stanford, Wisconsin and Nebraska."
Carter, a four-star prospect and the No. 21 defensive end in his class, suspects he might have accrued even more offers were he not on such an accelerated timetable.
"I've expressed many times that I'm close to making a decision, and so many schools haven't been in much contact," said Carter, who adds he hopes to decide in early May. "They're just sending letters that say basic things. So it's just those four."
Some recruits have a private favorite, or at least a slight lean, that they won't declare publicly as they want to not offend coaches, build suspense, or make sure they're making the right decision. Carter, however, insists that there truly is no leader among his top four.
"Not at all," he said. "I've been leaning to each of those four schools every day, so it's going to be a hard decision come May for me. No one's really pulled away."
Carter is confident, however, that he has enough information to make an informed decision in a month's time. In fact, just one major piece of the puzzle remains before he can decide where to make a commitment.
"Really, I'm just going to visit Nebraska for the first time," he said. "I've been in contact with most of the schools since football season in the fall and I've been getting really good information for long, long before now."
Indeed, Stanford has been high on Carter's radar for over six months now.
"I received their offer in the second week in October," Carter said. "I actually was surprised that they made their decision to offer me a scholarship. We met with them two times before. I met Coach Drevno when I was a sophomore, a long time ago, and I saw him before when they were in South Bend playing Notre Dame; they came up to my school to visit me then. That's the only times I'd been face-to-face or talked to a Stanford coach, so the offer really surprised me."
Worry not, Stanford fans, as Carter reports he's been hearing plenty from the Stanford staff since receiving the scholarship offer last fall.
"It's really picked up," Carter said. "I've talked to them probably every two weeks since receiving the offer. In the winter, it sort of died down--I didn't talk to them too much in December--but it picked up in January, when I made my plans to go visit for Junior Day in February. And then, after that, it really picked up. I started talking to them more and more before the Junior Day.
Carter particularly likes who he's conversing with on Stanford's coaching staff.
"I talk to [tight end] Coach Drevno, but I talk to Coach Harbaugh more, which I really like a lot, talking to the head coach, getting a feel for what he's like, and talking to him more. I've talked to [defensive end] Coach DJ Durkin once. I've talked to Coach Drevno a little bit -- also he's come by my school and I talked to him then."
As is quickly becoming a common theme this recruiting cycle, Carter had no shortage of kind words for the Cardinal coaching staff. Interestingly though, Carter commented primarily on an aspect of the staff this reporter had never before heard highlighted: its sheer size.
"Yes, I really like the coaching staff," Carter said. "There are a ton of people in there. It's one of the biggest staffs I've ever seen. … There are two DL coaches, one for the DTs and one for the DEs. It just seemed like when they went through Junior Day introductions, there were so many coaches or graduate assistants on the staff. That's a good thing, because you really get to know more people. There's no bad thing in that."
Of course, Carter doesn't feel close only with Stanford's staff.
"I would also say Notre Dame," Carter said. "They've really been there since the beginning. Also Wisconsin, I really feel close to them. Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Stanford's staffs I'm close to, and then Nebraska, I just started talking to them recently, because I received an offer from them two weeks ago. I didn't know that offer was coming, so I'm trying to make that close relationship."
Carter is visiting Nebraska for their April 18 spring game and has been to both Wisconsin and Notre Dame multiple times. He says Stanford and Notre Dame have maintained the most contact with him, but suspects Nebraska is going to pick up their efforts now that they've offered.
When schools do contact Carter, they'd be wise to pay heed to his priorities in his search for a school. Carter delineates three qualities his ideal school possesses.
"Coaching staff, academics and the campus life," Carter said. "Those would be the three main things. There are other things, but those are the big ones."
It's no surprise academics are a priority for Carter, as they are for most Stanford recruits. Carter says he would relish the opportunity to push himself in college - not just on the football field, but also intellectually.
"My mom is always pushing me to be the best person, to take that extra step and become that better student, that better player, and that wore off on me," Carter said. "I always take that extra step, adding a little bit more to a paper, a test or an assignment, and also in football, I'm always going all-out when I'm dead tired, pushing my body more and pushing body past its limits."
The hard work has paid off in the classroom for Carter.
"I carry a 90-percent GPA, and I haven't taken the ACT yet, but I'm taking it on Saturday," he said. "I'll hopefully get the score to get into Stanford because I f I can get into Stanford, I can get into any other school I'm looking at."
Indeed, Carter's confident he could clear the hurdle that Stanford Admissions presents to prospective student-athletes.
"I feel like I can get into Stanford," Carter said. "Especially if I choose to go there, I'd really strive to get the best possible ACT score I could get, the score I'd need to get. I'd keep taking it until I got it, but hopefully it'd be the first time that I get it. College is going to be hard, but I'm actually ready for a challenge, to take on college."
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Here's what Carter said he liked about each of his four leading schools:
"I don't really know much about Nebraska, so I'll be taking a look, but I've heard good things from my athletic trainer. He knows a lot about football because he's an old guy. [Editor: My parents' generation appreciates that, Chance.] He's been around and said their facilities have always been great. I guess they started the whole football-specific training, weightlifting, were one of the first schools to implement that. I also like the football there -- five National Titles, and the blackshirt defense really stands out a lot, just being one of those blackshirt guys. Plus, the fan support and that they have the most Academic All-Americans of any school in the country is really appealing.
I like the coaching staff. The guy that recruits my area [XX Randall McCray] is a character, a very passionate guy. Some of the players up there said he's a very high energy guy and gets everyone fired up. He's one of the most unique coaches I've ever met. And the campus is beautiful; Madison is a beautiful place. I know it's a top-10 sports city in the country, and on game day it gets really busy down there, especially on State Street. It's a sea of red and you can't go anywhere. Camp Randall is just a place in of itself, just such a beautiful stadium. The fan support is just bar none and then there's "Jump Around," always a fun thing. Also, their academics are very strong.
Really, they're the first ones to discover me, if you want to call it that, so I've been there many times - a basketball game, the spring game, the Michigan game -- six times total, and seen the campus. It's a pretty campus, world renown, because everyone knows Notre Dame. And the tradition is just like Nebraska, how many Championships, I don't even know, all the great players that have come through there.
Notre Dame's got the stadium and fan support, but the academics are what really drew me to that school. The football, yeah, it attracted me because it's Notre Dame football, but it wasn't really that; it was the academics first. It's a prestigious degree, especially if you come back to Chicago - it's the largest alumni group in the country in Chicago for Notre Dame, so it's really easy to find a job here in Chicago. I live in Evanston, my dad works for a school district in Skokie, and my mom, a nurse, grew up in Chicago her whole life, so I'm a real born-and-bred Chicagoan.
Also, just like Notre Dame, the thing that attracted me the most was the academics, it being nicknamed or given the title of "The Ivy League of the West." That's just like what I really was looking for in any school. I guess when they started the school they got some of the Ivy League professors from Harvard, Yale, all those schools, to come to Stanford, and they never went back because usually you don't go back from California when you visit; that's what most people say. Really the academics compelled me the most.
The climate -- I actually like cold weather, so not that big of a deal, but the campus is beautiful and there's that Nor-Cal scenery. It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. It's just beautiful and big. I didn't know it's that big; that's why it's called "The Farm." There are lots of trees and not a lot of students there in that big amount of space, so you can spread out, which I think is kind of nice.
The coaches are nice people, all nice and all friendly. When I went there, basically all the coaches knew my name and said hi to me. That just shows it's not one side of the ball's coaches, they all know you, both sides of the ball know you as a player, so that's kind of good. I want to interact with everyone on the football team, not just your side of the football, and I think some schools probably leave that out a little bit. Some coaches are not interested in guys on the other side of the football.
As each of Carter's four schools adjust their pitches and Carter makes his final visit and nears a decision, stay tuned to The Bootleg for all the latest!
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