ATHENS – Lorenzo Carter claims he doesn’t know what his NFL draft grade was last year. Obviously it wasn’t first round because, if it was, he wouldn’t be at Georgia.
But once that was established, the Bulldogs’ senior outside linebacker was not interested in hearing what the scouts and executives had to say.
“I don’t really know; I don’t really care,” Carter said following Georgia’s practice Tuesday at the Butts-Mehre football complex. “I came back for a reason and I’m proud and happy I came back. I’m really happy I came back.”
There is a lot about which to feel joy. Carter’s Bulldogs (5-0, 2-0 SEC) are undefeated and ranked No. 5 in the land, his defense is coming off its second consecutive SEC game without allowing a touchdown and Carter’s production on the field has been significant.
Heading into Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-2), the 6-foot-6, 250-pound senior from Norcross leads the team in quarterback sacks (3.0), tackles for loss (4.5) and quarterback pressures (8). He has also been extremely productive in the takeaway department. He has caused two fumbles and recovered three, including one against Tennessee this past week.
All Carter needs is an interception or a scoop-and-score and he’ll just about have all the boxes checked for a phenomenal senior season.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart was asked Tuesday if he thought Carter might’ve improved his NFL stock this season.
“He’s certainly played well. I think that’s for them to determine, though,” Smart said.
Without a doubt he has. In fact, asked after the Tennessee game if he thought he might’ve made some money for himself this season, he laughed and said, “I hope so.”
But, again, he said that’s not and never was what coming back to Georgia for this last season was all about.
“This is about being with my teammates, being with my guys,” Carter said. “The locker room, there’s nothing like it, man. We spend so much time together down there. I’m just so glad I got another year to spend with the guys.”
The joy shows in everything that Georgia’s defense is doing at the moment. It’s beginning to distinguish itself as one of the school’s best ever. Currently the Bulldogs are No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense (9.2 ppg) and third in total defense (244 ypg). Only UGA and Clemson have not allowed an opponent 300 yards in any game.
That’s obviously a product of teamwork but what Carter has been doing certainly hasn’t hurt.
“Relentless, every play,” cornerback Deandre Baker said of the teammate that plays just in front of him. “He’s giving his all every play. He’s laying it all on the line for his teammates. He’s a team player. He’ll do whatever it takes to do his job and to help the team.”
Carter said that’s definitely his goal, to lay it all on the line. But it’s also the goal of fellow outside linebacker Davin Bellamy, defensive backs Aaron Davis and Dominick Sanders and noseguard John Atkins.
All of them are seniors on this defensive unit who explored the NFL draft but opted to stay in Athens and give college ball one more shot.
They’re having a blast so far.
“Before every game we’ve got a little countdown. Me and Bell, we let them know we only have however many games left. So we take advantage of every opportunity we have. We’re just embracing it. We’re embracing the challenge, we’re embracing our last opportunities to come out here and show everybody what we have.”