ATHENS – Lorenzo Carter, to those who know him, was always the draft-eligible player most likely to stay in school. He likes school. He listens to classical music, and grew up playing the cello.
So of the four players that Georgia trotted out on Thursday to announce they were returning for their final years, Carter was the least surprising.
“You have to realize once you go to that level it’s a business, it’s a livelihood,” Carter said. “Right now, I’m still having fun playing with my guys, my teammates, living life, going to class. I don’t feel like I’m in a rush.”
There’s also this: Carter is smart enough to know his chances of being picked high are better after next year.
A former five-star recruit, Carter flashed great promise his freshman year, when he had 4.5 sacks, 7 tackles-for-loss and 18 quarterback pressures. He hasn’t equaled any of those numbers in the subsequent two seasons, despite becoming a starter this year.
But Carter still has the size and athleticism that NFL teams would find intriguing. So he might have entertained the idea of declaring, hoping for a great NFL combine performance, and at that point would at minimum be drafted somewhere. Instead, Carter said he never even looked at the draft grade from the NFL advisory committee.
“I know there was some information but I wasn’t even worried about it,” Carter said. “I was worried about coming back.”
Carter said he did speak to former Georgia outside linebackers Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins – who two years ago both passed on the draft. Floyd ended up turning pro after last season and was the ninth overall pick, while Jenkins was a third-round pick after sticking it out through his senior year, just like Carter will.
“Even just the guys were in the outside linebacker room in my time here. Just being able to talk to Flo and Jordan, and see what their mindset was, how they reacted, how they went through the process,” Carter said. “It was pretty good to see that and I feel I made the right decision.”
Davin Bellamy, Georgia’s other junior outside linebacker, also announced he was coming back Thursday. But while tailbacks Sony Michel and Nick Chubb appeared to reach their decisions independently, Bellamy and Carter were more in lockstep.
“I was working on Bell. We were working on each other, try to see what my thought process was,” Carter said. “At the end of the day, we wanted to play with each other – keep playing with each other, keep growing and work on that chemistry.”
Now that’s what Carter will do, as part of an effort to finish his career a better way – for himself and his team.
“I want to be a part of something great. I won four state championships in high school and I wanted a ring before I left college,” Carter said. “I feel we can make that happen.”