This is part of a series on the nation's top uncommitted recruits leading up to signing day. Click here for the full series.
Five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) is one of the most heavily recruited football players in the country. But football stardom didn’t always seem like it would be in the 6-foot-5, 234-pound athlete’s future.
"It was basketball for me early,” Carter said. "Me and my family always played basketball. It was kind of weird being recruited for football because I had spent so much time playing basketball and developing for basketball and then football comes and I’m like ‘I guess I have to change my time and effort to football now.’”
Carter’s mother, Lisa, admits it was her advice that pointed her son in the right direction.
"He could never decide if he wanted to go football or basketball,” Lisa said. "So I always told him ‘Lorenzo, if you grow taller then basketball is the direction you need to go. Because at your current size -- think about the next level, they truly have 7-footers and guys that are 6-11. You’re not quite there. You’ve been playing in the post the whole time, so if you get taller it’s basketball but if you stay at your size, stay with football. You have beautiful size for football.’”
Beyond his imposing football physique, Lisa offered some hard truths.
“[Lorenzo] didn’t get any taller and we’re like ‘your ballhandling skills are not that great -- especially to be a guard,” Lisa said. “Take a look at some of the guards in the NBA and look at their heights and compare them to you. Can you play with LeBron?’ He’s taller than you.’ He’s like yeah you got a point, so football it is.”
Now that her son is an All-American football player, Lisa and her husband, Leo, are helping Lorenzo make the best college decision for his future.
"Look at each school,” said Lisa, describing her advice. “See what it has to offer academically and then see what the coaching staff has to offer for you athletically. Are they producing academically and athletically? If they are then those are the schools that you need to look at on your list. Once you determined who meets your needs, then how do you feel about those schools? Because you have to have a feeling, you have to have a connection with those schools. When you find the strongest connection, that’s where you need to be.”
For Lorenzo, there is one school with which he has made the best connection.
"I’d say Florida. I had the best relationship with the Georgia staff, but yeah, they are gone now,” Lorenzo laughed, "so I’d say Florida. I always spent time with the Florida and Georgia staffs. I went to Georgia all the time, then Florida was one of my favorites early so I just spent so much time with those schools. Florida is always here and every time they come they bring like four coaches to see me.”
Luckily for Georgia, new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt knows Carter from his time at Florida State. Carter said Pruitt has made him a priority since taking the new job.
"I think it was a good pickup for Georgia,” Lorenzo said. "I really didn’t talk to him much when he was at Florida State but I feel like I’ll have a better relationship now that he’s at Georgia. He’s been working hard to get a better relationship with me. He came to the house probably the day after he got hired.”
Carter has a top four of Georgia, Florida, Florida State and LSU and this week will be hectic for the No. 14-ranked player in the country.
All four of Carter's top schools have visited or are scheduled to visit this week. In fact, Florida and FSU had coaches at his basketball game on Tuesday night and LSU coach Les Miles met with Carter’s mother on Wednesday. Pruitt will visit Carter on Thursday while head coach Mark Richt will do his in-home visit on Monday.
In addition, Carter is still planning to take an official visit to FSU this weekend followed by his last official visit, to Georgia, the weekend of the Jan. 31.
With less than two weeks until signing day things are coming down to the wire. Factors like academics, distance and program stability will all factor in to Carter’s decision. Lisa, however, said there is one particular school she would like for her son to attend.
"I have a daughter, Larrisa, who plays basketball at Coppin State in Baltimore, Md. With Larrisa playing basketball in Maryland and Lorenzo here doing sports, we hardly ever had an opportunity to see Larissa play,” Lisa said. "That was very difficult. On holidays she couldn’t come home, she would have to spend Thanksgiving at a coach’s house and Christmas here for only two days. So distance was an issue for our family.
"Of course I would love for him to go to Georgia -- it’s an hour away. It’s close enough to get to him but not close enough to where I’m just going to drive up there every day. But, I have great respect for all of the coaches and, like I told Lorenzo, it’s his decision, wherever he goes -- we’ll be there. I favor Georgia, but only because of distance, not because of pressure or anything else. It’s only the distance for me. I’d be OK if he went to the University of Hawaii, if that’s what he wanted to do.”
And that sentiment is shared throughout the Carter family. The family will help guide and give their opinions, but at the end of the day, it will be Lorenzo making the final decision.
"I can’t let it play that big of a factor because I’m going to have to grow up and leave the house eventually anyway,” Lorenzo said. "They are going to have influence but it’s going to be my decision. We know that as a family."