SUWANEE — The trip to North Gwinnett High School for practice was bound to happen early. It is because of the type of reputation junior LB Barrett Carter has begun to acquire. Over a year ago.
His offer count tallies up to 40 on his 247Sports profile page. That one from Michigan is one of the most recent. He rates as the nation’s No. 8 OLB and No. 114 overall for 2021 per the 247Sports Composite ratings.
The opinion here is that might be a wee bit low.
We can call it an upset if he plays the most at OLB for the big boys. He has those Go-Go-Gadget-Arms type of length the Saturday guys do who play on the edge, but he’s just a few inches shorter than the elite edge defenders and rushers.
That should not dismiss the worth of what Mr. Carter can do.
He has that “it” about him.
For the scope of this scouting narrative, we’re going to do something different with that beaten-to-death scouting cliche.
Carter’s “it” is pink.
It hangs from his facemask.
The simple evaluation point is this: Run to sign a young man who plays the way he does on film and also has the grit to wear a pink mouthpiece.
The young man can play. But that was known by watching his sophomore and junior film. What else sticks out after that recent trip to the North Gwinnett practice field?
See the ball? Check. Find the ball? Check. Attack the ball? Check. What’s that hanging down from his helmet? The kid his family calls “Bear” will rock a pink mouthpiece as if Ray Lewis gave it to him.
He’s right over the 6-foot-1 mark. Weighs about 215 pounds. He will be at UGA this weekend for the Texas A&M game. It will be his first visit since Notre Dame earlier this year.
He was at Auburn last weekend for that big SEC clash between the Bulldogs and Tigers last weekend. He is highly motivated to play in a big-game atmosphere like that one on Saturdays.
“Ever since I was a kid my parents said God shined something on me and I had a chance to be something special,” he said. “They believe in me. It is one of my goals to make that a reality. I don’t want my parents to work another day in their life they don’t have to. That’s my ‘why’ in football. I think this game can take me a lot of places. Hopefully, this game can take me to a college where I can get my degree where if football doesn’t work out, then the degree will lead me somewhere, too.”
Carter can enroll early but doesn’t plan to do so coming out of North Gwinnett. He just likes being a kid. Having fun. Spending 10 hours riding rollercoasters with his girlfriend on Saturday nights.
He’s still just a kid. Except between the lines.
Scouting report: What to make of junior LB Barrett Carter
Watch All-American hopeful Isaiah Simmons play for Clemson Tiger. That’s the player parallel here. He sees that, too.
“He plays all over the place,” Carter said. “He’s in the box. He blitzes. He covers receivers. That’s what I do now. That’s who I compare myself to. For sure.”
Carter has a reputation as a highly-instinctual player. Some very trained eyes around North Gwinnett have said he’s every bit as advertised inside the box for the Bulldogs.
The word is he’s just too freaking smart.
That was validated within the first few minutes of a practice trip. North Gwinnett assistant coach Cedric Dickerson has been around some nasty defenders over the last five years. That’s a trio of All-Americans in Richard LeCounte III (Liberty County), Derrik Allen (Notre Dame and now Georgia Tech) and now Carter.
Carter just accepted an invited to play in the 2021 All-American Bowl out in Texas.
“He’s a new age linebacker,” Dickerson said. “If Barrett wanted to, he could play safety. He’s that athletic and he’s that guy in space. He loves it.”
When his varsity Bulldogs call on him to play a lot of man coverage, he’s good with it.
If needed, he could be a “Will” linebacker in college at an elite program, too.
“That’s because he can cover,” Dickerson said. “He’s kind of like Dylan Moses maybe. That joker can move. That summer went to Alabama this summer on the grass and ran an electronic 4.6. That’s electronic and on their grass at Alabama. Not a stopwatch.”
He’s also physical in the run game.
“Works hard,” Dickerson said. “Plays the run game hard. You can coach him hard. He’s just an all-around good kid.”
That “good kid” theory has been field-tested. Carter passed that one, too. It came after he was pulled aside after practice to grab some photos.
Once the first whiff of a posed photo started to materialize, his teammates gave him nothing but grief.
Constant ragging. Toying. Yelling. Players don’t do that unless they love one of their own getting a little bit of well-deserved attention. The standoff-ish and keep-to-themselves players who are not at the heart of their team’s locker room don’t get that treatment. No matter how talented they might be.
It wasn’t every player on the North Gwinnett team, but it might as well have been.
Dickerson placed him among the top front seven players he’s coached or been around in his career.
Carter and his Bulldogs (10-1) host Walton (6-5) in the second round of the GHSA Class 7A state playoffs this week.
Georgia wants him at ILB. Clemson wants him to play its “nickel” position in the ACC. Most schools recruit him as a hybrid ILB/OLB.
When he does his off-the-field conditioning and speed work, he does it with defensive backs and receivers. With that, it wasn’t that surprising that the first play on his sophomore highlight tape is a one-handed “OBJ” style interception in the 2018 Class 7A state playoffs.
He picked that ball after he diagnosed a play on a rollout. He snatched it while he was running with the receiver down the sidelines. It is probably the best play he has made up to this point. Rightfully so.
Barrett Carter: What he brings to his high school team
Dickerson nailed the scouting perspective with Carter. But this young man has more to his future college team than that. He just exudes a lot of positive energy.
North Gwinnett head coach Bill Stewart believes about Carter. His teammates dogging him out for flashing a cheesy grin for a posed only reinforces what
“He’s a very high character young man,” Stewart said. “So he is always smiling. He is a lot of fun to be around. Comes from a great family. I’m not just saying that. He really is the kind of guy you want on your team. The guy you want as a friend and a teammate. The guy to take home with you and meet your parents so maybe they don’t worry about who you hang around with so they meet your family.”
Carter doesn’t say much at all during a full practice. Yet the mild-mannered guy is a flip switcher when he hits the field.
“He’s athletic enough to where he can do the stuff ‘DBs’ do,” Stewart said. “So I have no reservations if he has to cover somebody. If so, he can cover somebody. If I blitz him, he can blitz. If he’s got a guy wrapped up, they stay wrapped up. So he’s a very instinctive player and a thick player, too. No one really runs through him. He understands his fits and he understands the game so you put all of that together with him being a really great athlete along with that and you’ve got really got something here.”
There’s not just play that shows all that he can do. According to Stewart, it is every play.
“I just like whenever someone is running the ball then he just shows up,” Stewart said earlier this year. “Then whoosh all of a sudden it is a two-yard loss. You see a guy out of nowhere who is like ‘whoooosh’ and that happened last week several times.”
The junior will not be the guy singing in the locker room. Carter’s locker doesn’t stand out for being either too clean or abnormally messy. There is just not one defining story there.
Except for when there is anything the team needs its players to volunteer for. It could be a youth camp or a special needs camp.
Whoosh. Carter is right there, too. No questions. No strings. No quick appearances.
“I always tell him he’s the nicest kid in the school,” Stewart said.
Barrett Carter: His thoughts on his college decision
A decision is not imminent for Carter.
“I plan to do it before my senior season,” he said. “I just want to go into the season stress-free and not worrying about anything. Just focus on my team.”
He feels he will likely still be undecided at the end of his junior year in May.
“I’m not anywhere close to coming to an end in my recruitment,” he said last month.
There is a certain tug toward the in-state Bulldogs. He was there for Notre Dame and will be back for Texas A&M. He even had a good feeling the Bulldogs were going to take down Florida this month.
“I was positive that Georgia would win,” he said. “I was very surprised at how Georgia stopped their run game, though. Because Florida has a tough run game.”
What is he looking for in a school?
“I want a school that is going to develop me as a person first,” he said. “Football is not always going to be there. The school will be where I feel at home, but then that school will also develop me as a player, too. Because I want to go to the [NFL] as that is the all-time goal.”
He grew up in Chicago and didn’t play football until he was in the fourth grade. Carter moved to Gwinnett County approximately seven years ago.
That’s about the time he stopped growing. He’s been right around six feet tall since he was in the seventh grade. When he moved to Georgia, he heard a lot about the Bulldogs.
“You just hear all the hype about Georgia,” he said. “I just started to become a fan of Georgia recently.”
Georgia is doing a good job of recruiting Carter by not overloading him with attention. His primary recruiter is ILBs coach Glenn Schumann.
“They don’t bug me,” he said. “A lot of schools think that constantly texting you and bugging you is the key. That is really not it at all. They like to give me my space. They text me to come to their games, but they do it in a way where I still feel like I am really wanted by them. That’s it. That’s a good thing.”
He rattled off a conga line of programs that are also showing him he is a priority: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech and Ohio State.
He also plans to be at the Georgia-Georgia Tech game.
“I want to go to the Georgia-Georgia Tech game for sure,” Carter said. “Georgia Tech wants me to. I love both of those schools. Both of those hometown schools. I just want to go see that game.”
He aims to study business or sports broadcasting when he is in college.
“It will be one of those two things,” he said of an intended major. “I want to start up my own company one day.”
Check out the most recent highlight tapes for Barrett Carter
(That aforementioned “OBJ” highlight INT is the first play on the second embedded video.)