RECRUITING: Keeping Up With Carter

Following in the footsteps of defensive giants at Memphis Melrose High School, such as Dewayne Robertson, Kendall Moorehead, David Payne and Mondre Dickerson, senior Golden Wildcat tackle Michael Carter appears to be coming of age while growing in stature.

Already fleet of foot with occasional 4.9 clockings in the 40 and consistent five flats, Carter built on his strength by improving his size. And he didn't just add pounds, he built muscle and filled out his frame with the help of personal trainer Charles White.

"I've been working with him for two years," Carter recounted. "I've made a lot of progress. I was always pretty big, about 6-2, 260 when I started. I was 275 last year and now I'm 6-3, 290."

Naturally, Michael Carter was increasing his overall strength while adding muscle mass. Today he bench presses 335 pounds, power cleans about 285 and squats an impressive 630 pounds of solid steel. He met his goal of adding 15 pounds each year while maintaining his speed and increasing his quickness.

"He's a very good trainer," Carter said of White. "I consider him a friend. We've got a very good relationship in the weight room. He pushes me, motivates me, makes me do things I didn't dream I could do."

By doing what he didn't dream, Carter may end up doing something he has long dreamt about playing football for the Tennessee Volunteers.

"Really my heart has always been with UT," he said. "I grew up around them with both my dad and mom being from the school. That's a school that I just really want to go to, but if they don't offer me I just have to keep my options open and go on."

Defensive tackle is a position of need for Tennessee this recruiting campaign and the Vols are carefully examining their options in a class that is uncommonly deep in D-line prospects. Getting a chance to evaluate prospects during their senior seasons will help answer a lot of questions. Meanwhile, UT's active interest in Carter is genuine and Tennessee has already, reportedly, offered Melrose running back Graig Cooper.

"Recruiting is going pretty good right now," Carter said. "The teams that are hitting hard on me are Ole Miss, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, TSU (Tennessee State University), Arkansas State, Louisville, Tennessee and Memphis. There are a bunch more but I can't just say them off the top of my head."

Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Arkansas State and TSU are among the schools to extend Carter offers, and he will get a chance to increase that list during what figures to be another high-profile season at the perennial pigskin power.

The Golden Wildcats have their work cut out to improve on last season's 14-1 mark that ended with a defeat in the Class-4A state title game. Carter started on the offensive line for Melrose and was the anchor of a defense that surrendered an average of 4.6 points per game.

Carter contributed 97 tackles, 16 sacks and 52 QB hurries as a junior and is ready to lead Melrose a title this fall. He carries a 3.2 GPA and is fully qualified.

"We've got some unfinished business to take care of," he said. "We started two-a-days this Monday. It's been hard waking up at five o'clock in the morning, but you've got to do it. I think we're starting off pretty good. We scrimmage MUS (Memphis University School) on Friday (today)."

It's an honor to be from a school that has had so many great D-tackles, and I like competition so I'm going to always be trying to one up my competition, try to beat records and be the best to come out. Then I would encourage the next person to try and be better than I was."

Daunting as it is to follow in the wake of so many outstanding D-linemen, Carter is up to the task and is looking to leave some footprints of his own.

"It's an honor to be from a school that has had so many great D-tackles," he said. "I like competition so I'm going to always be trying to one up my competition, try to beat records and be the best to come out. I personally want to break the sack record for our school. Then I would encourage the next person to try and be better than I was."

In a very real sense Carter has been encouraged in the same way by his father, also named Michael, who went to Tennessee after graduating from Memphis Frayzer.

"I was one of those that went to UT I played ball for a while, I got disenchanted, came home to Memphis, tried to go to U of M, hated it, and finally told my folks I think I want to go back to UT, finish my work and get through school."

The senior Carter graduated with a degree in advertising in 1987 and is in sales with Fed Ex today. He has a lot of fond memories of his time at Tennessee including his work with the football team.

"I went there as what they called preferred walk-on status," he recalled. "I started the same year that Reggie White and Willie Gault did. I was good friends with Glenn Ford and remember Hershel Walker's first game."

Michael Carter still follows the Vols and would like to see his son go to Tennessee, but first and foremost he wants him to make a decision that's in his best interest.

"I'm not an overbearing dad but I love my son dearly," he said. "I just want to be sure that it's his choice. We'll go through the process, but I just want to make sure he's going to a place where he is absolutely wanted. And where he has a chance to not only flourish on the football field, but also the whole college environment, academically as well as personally."

If Carter flourishes this fall, he'll be fielding a lot of offers.

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