Depending on which recruiting rankings you reference, Norcross defensive end Lorenzo Carter is a top-15 prospect nationally or top-40 on the low end.
The best, he believes, is still yet to come.
“I’ll be looking forward to going to college because I’m going to grow so much as a player when I get there,” he said.
Carter’s ultimate choice will be one of the biggest storylines heading into national signing day on Wednesday.
Georgia is in the running to land Carter, one of the nation’s top remaining uncommitted prospects. Recruiting analysts still view the Bulldogs as the leader as he heads to Athens this weekend for his official visit.
Georgia has had to convince Carter that Athens is the place for him after defensive coordinator Todd Grantham left for Louisville. Carter had called Grantham and head coach Mark Richt “great coaches,” and Richt, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and running backs coach Bryan McClendon visited with Carter on Monday.
Location always has been is in the Bulldogs’ favor.
“They’re in my backyard, they’re close to home,” Carter said. “My parents can come see me whenever they wanted. They’ll be at all the games.”
Carter will announce his decision at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday on ESPNU’s 11-hour signing day show. He’s also considering Florida, Florida State and LSU.
“It’s been pretty hectic for him,” said Jesse McMillan, who coaches Carter on the Norcross basketball team. “He’s ready for it to have it be over. … I think he really is legitimately giving everybody strong consideration and I think it’s going to come down to the last day or two before signing day.”
LSU coach Les Miles and an assistant came by last week, and Florida and Florida State assistants were on hand at a basketball game at Mountain View.
If the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Carter does pick Georgia, he could be the Bulldogs’ next impact pass rusher, probably as an outside linebacker.
“I would do basically what Jarvis Jones did,” said Carter, who had six sacks this season in helping his team to its second straight Class AAAAAA state championship. “I’m a little taller. … Jarvis was a sack-master. I think he led the SEC in sacks. He might have led the nation.”
Carter transferred from Whitefield Academy before his junior season where he won state basketball titles at the school in Mableton. He’s expected to play in Norcross’ game tonight at Peachtree Ridge and then go on his official visit.
“Basketball seems to be a release for him,” McMillan said. “It gives him a couple of hours at practice away from the phone where he can focus on being a kid, having fun and doing something that he loves to do.”
Carter is rated as the No. 14 prospect nationally by ESPN, No. 20 by 247Sports, No.23 by Scout and No. 36 by Rivals despite not having a stellar senior season in the view of some.
He opened up eyes at the Under Armour game Jan. 2 in St. Petersburg, Fla., going up against Alabama commitment Cameron Robinson. Carter had six tackles, including one and a half for loss and a half a sack.
“I think I’m pretty good,” Carter said. “I know I’ll mature more when I get to college, just with age and being in college.”
Indeed, recruiting analyst Chad Simmons of Scout.com believes Carter needs to work on his technique and ability to stop the run when disengaging with big offensive tackles, but sees plenty of upside.
“Carter is a special athlete at his size,” Simmons said. “He is very fluid and coordinated with such length and the frame to add good weight. He pursues the ball and he is an excellent pass rusher. His speed to the ball is a real strength as is his frame, his long arms and overall athleticism.”
Some on the Norcross coaching staff — which includes former Georgia defensive lineman Marcus Jackson and Corey Richardson, who attended UGA — have a Georgia background.
“I just kind of tune it out because it’s my decision,” Carter said. “I’ve got to make it and I’ve got to live it.”
Carter grew up a fan, not of Georgia, but of Miami. Sort of.
“I have a Miami baseball jersey I love,” Carter said. “I think it was the colors that drew me.”
Georgia or his other suitors — he called Florida State’s season that ended with a national title “awesome” — would be thrilled to have a player that USA Today named him All-USA first team on defense.
“Carter could definitely help Georgia,” Simmons said. “You have seen Justin Houston and Jarvis Jones excel in the scheme and Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd have had their moments too. Carter is in that mold and he has so much upside and potential. His best football is still ahead of him and he has so much room to develop as a football player.”
Marc Weiszer: firstname.lastname@example.org