JACKSON, Ga. -- Michail Carter was 13 years old this past spring when Georgia assistant head coach Rodney Garner stopped by Jackson High School to check out rising seniors Jay Woods and Justin Akins. The 6-foot-4, 256-pound defensive tackle also caught Garner’s attention.
“My dad was coming to pick me up and I was walking to the truck when I heard somebody say, ‘Is that the big ninth-grader everybody is talking about?’ ” Carter said. “I happened to look and it was the Georgia defensive line coach. I was smiling on the inside but I tried to keep a straight face.”
Garner was introduced to Carter and the Georgia coach decided he wanted to see more of the rising freshman.
“He said, ‘Man, you are big.’ ” Carter said. “He gave me an invite to go to their camp and I was ecstatic to receive it because I really like Georgia and the SEC schools. The Mark Richt camp was real intense. It was long but I endured it. I liked the atmosphere and the kids that were there. We got a chance to tour the school. It was a fun experience. The weight room is fabulous -- that is where I live, in the weight room.”
Carter also received special attention when he went to a camp at Alabama.
“The defensive line coach at Alabama, Coach (Chris) Rumph, he put me to work,” Carter said. “I had gone to the Alabama camp in July and he had me doing one-on-one drills with the offensive linemen. I did pretty good for a freshman against all of those seniors. I had turned 14 in May.”
Line coaches in the SEC are not known for their sympathy in summer camps and both Garner and Rumph pushed Carter. He loved it.
“Coach Rumph said, ‘I know you are a young guy but I am going to keep putting pressure on you.’ ” Carter said. “And I like him. He doesn’t baby you. If you do badly, he gives it to you. If you do good, he tells you to do better.”
Most of Carter’s opponents across the line of scrimmage don’t realize the big defensive tackle is a freshman. That makes for some interesting moments on the field. For example, on Friday night against Carver (Ga.) High School, tempers were running hot as holding penalties and unsportsmanlike conduct infractions piled up.
“Just a few minutes ago, when we were in the third quarter, the guy across from me was talking a lot of smack,” Carter said. “One of my guys said, ‘That is a ninth-grader you are talking to.’ That guy was surprised. He was speechless.”
The early attention from Alabama and Georgia is indicative of what will be coming Carter’s way as he grows and improves.
“I really don’t have a favorite school but I want to go somewhere that has my major,” Carter said. “I really want to major in sports physical therapy.”
The fact that Carter already has a major picked isn’t surprising since the A student is a proven overachiever. On a defensive line that is populated with a Vanderbilt commitment in Woods and Georgia Tech commitment in Akins, Brown has started every game.
“I put a lot of hard work in during the off season and the coaches believed in me,” Carter said. “There was a spot open so I took it. We are pretty deep at that position on our defense and we are good enough to sub in and sub out. I am trying to match my talent to my size.”