Zachary Carter might have had the longest trek out of the more than 100 participants on hand for Tennessee's massive junior day on March 5. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound prospect traveled from Tampa to Knoxville to get a glimpse of Butch Jones' program and, according to him, it wasn't a wasted trip.
The Scout four-star defensive end raved about the weekend and what he saw from Tennessee that helped put the program in discussion for his talents.
"I really loved the visit," Carter said. "It was a lot better than I expected it to be. I've never been here before and everything blew me away — the coaches, the facilities, the atmosphere. I really enjoyed it."
The No. 3-raked defensive end in the Sunshine State wasn't quite sure what to expect once he came to campus. What he encountered when he got there was much more intriguing than what he expected.
"I was thinking it was just like an average school, but it turned out to be more than that," Carter said. "I talked to the new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, (defensive line) coach (Steve) Stripling and coach Jones. Their message to me was they're going to recruit me hard throughout this process and try to get me to be a Volunteer."
Carter has piled up dozens of offers from programs like Clemson, LSU and Notre Dame, among many others, but he isn't concerned with quantity. For him, it's all about seeking out where he feels the most comfortable.
"I'm not really concerned about the offers I get," he said. "I'm just trying to find the best fit for me right now. I keep a running list in my head, but at the same time I'm trying to take it one day at a time."
How big of an impact did the weekend visit have on Tennessee's chances down the road? Carter told InsideTennessee it's a big step in the right direction.
"It improved their chances, because a lot of people don't know that I probably like Tennessee," he said. "That made me like Tennessee more."
Without the buzz of a camp or game day, the Hillsborough Senior High School standout was able to sit down personally with the coaching staff to carve out his potential role in the program. While he sifts through a growing offer list, Carter knows where he stands with the Vols.
"They said they sat down and they watched my film and they loved what they saw," Carter said. "My improvement from sophomore year, all the aspects of my game improved, and they say they can't wait to see what happens."