With All-Southeastern Conference inside linebacker Ramik Wilson sidelined for a week and a half due to a concussion, his understudy tried to make the most of the situation.
Sophomore Reggie Carter is listed behind Wilson ‚Äî who led the SEC in tackles a year ago and returned to practice Wednesday ‚Äî at the ‚ÄúMike‚Äù linebacker position on Georgia‚Äôs defensive depth chart and is toiling to refine his approach as the Bulldogs move closer to their Aug. 30 season opener with Clemson.
‚ÄúI feel I‚Äôve got to be more of a vocal leader right now on the field and earn those upper guys‚Äô respect,‚Äù the 6-foot-1, 235-pound Carter said. ‚ÄúI need for them to depend on me, and I‚Äôve got to earn their respect with the reps I‚Äôm getting in practice.‚Äù
Outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, noting that Carter did gain some experience in 2013, said he‚Äôs more than confident with Carter on the field.
‚ÄúWith Reggie out there, I don‚Äôt have to worry about him not knowing what to do after what he‚Äôs done last year,‚Äù Jenkins said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs learned from the mistakes he‚Äôs made when he‚Äôs gone in. He‚Äôs eager to get out there and eager to strike somebody.‚Äù
Amarlo Herrera, the ‚ÄúWill‚Äù linebacker, agreed that Carter ‚Äî who played in eight games last fall ‚Äî will be counted on to contribute immediately.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs coming along great,‚Äù Herrera, who was third in the SEC and second on the team in tackles with 112, said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs been working hard since he got here, so he‚Äôs just learning and getting ready to play when it‚Äôs his chance. Everybody‚Äôs competing, so he‚Äôs competing for winning a spot or getting some playing time. He can make an impact when he‚Äôs on the field.‚Äù
Although his presence on the field in 2013 was mostly as a special teams player, Carter was able to earn a start last year ‚Äî on Oct. 12 against Missouri ‚Äî by being in the right place at the right time.
‚ÄúIt was the Missouri game and one of our players had to go do something ‚Äî an equipment thing, I guess you could say,‚Äù Carter, who had one tackle in the game, said. ‚ÄúI was headed off the field from the kickoff and Amarlo was telling me to stay on the field. So I got the start. It was better than knowing about it days in advance and being worried about it.‚Äù
A highly decorated standout at Snellville‚Äôs South Gwinnett High School who grew up in South Florida, Carter ‚Äî who will turn 20 on the day Georgia hosts Troy ‚Äî admits he didn‚Äôt grow up a Bulldogs fan.
‚ÄúActually, I‚Äôm from Miami,‚Äù Carter, who last year recorded eight tackles, including one for lost yards, said. ‚ÄúMy family is a pretty big U fan and playing in Florida was a dream, but as I got older and moved to Georgia, (I realized) you‚Äôve got to love Georgia if you‚Äôre going to (high) school in Georgia.‚Äù
Many see Carter ‚Äî who suffered a torn ACL while at South Gwinnett ‚Äî as one of the Bulldogs‚Äô top linebackers of the future, after Wilson and Herrera have departed. It may be, however, that the clock moves forward a little quicker now. Carter is more than ready to contribute in whatever capacity he‚Äôs called upon, but he also occasionally thinks of the days ahead and pays close attention to the actions of Georgia‚Äôs veterans.
‚ÄúI think about the future a lot and I think about being ‚Äòthat guy‚Äô to the younger guys,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúWhen I was the younger guy, the (veterans) welcomed me with open arms and taught me the system and taught me life stuff. I want to be that guy for the younger guys.‚Äù
The sophomore, who has plans to study finance, was named to the athletic director‚Äôs honor roll for spring semester and shared a refreshing and effective technique for handling the academic side of his life.
‚ÄúI treat every class like my mom is in there,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúMy mom doesn‚Äôt play about my grades, so I‚Äôll be in (class) like she‚Äôs there and checking my report card.‚Äù