Oct. 5, 2011
By Nick Frank
Athletic Media Relations
For never really wanting to play football, Raymond Carter has done pretty well for himself.
The 6-foot, 212-poundrunning back from Los Angeles,Calif., never had intentions to even pick up the pigskin, let alone be the No.3-ranked overall running back in the nation by rivals.com coming out of high school. That’s the first thing he was wrong about.
It was only when his father, Andre Carter, urged his son to play football that Carter even decided to strap on some cleats.
Growing up in a community that was no stranger to drug abuse and gang violence, Carter doesn’t know what would have happened after high school if he did not play football. Admittedly, he probably would not have guessed he would be attending the prestigious UCLA. That’s the second thing he was wrong about.
“Sports was kind of a way out for me,” said Carter. “I can’t imagine myself not playing football.”
Carter tore his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments on a simple cut in practice during his freshman year. He was forced to sit out the entire season. The following year, UCLA hired a new coaching staff and after giving it a try in spring ball, Carter decided to transfer to another school.
With the help of his dad, Carter started sending out tapes to schools he thought would be interested. After all, he had turned down scholarship offers from the University of Southern California, California, and Arizona while garnering serious interest from Michigan, Clemson, Mississippi State and Notre Dame as aprep senior. Surely, most schools would be ecstatic to hear from this caliber of a player. Carter heard back from a number of programs including San Diego State, BYU, Texas and Texas A&M, among other schools. Colorado State was not one of them. It’s not that the Rams weren’t interested; they just never received tapes.
After receiving word from a friend about Carter, quarterbacks coach Daren Wilkinson made a few phone calls and CSU was officially in the Carter sweepstakes. Before taking his visit to Fort Collins, Carter had options elsewhere and thought he would stay somewhere close to Los Angeles, close to home. That’s the third thing he was wrong about.
With childhood best friend Elijah-Blu Smith on the Ram roster as a defensive back, coming to Fort Collins was what Carter called “comfortable” and he liked the family atmosphere within the program. Make no mistake about it; the decision to come to Fort Collins was a hard one. Former UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker is now the head coach at New Mexico State and the two had a great relationship back in Los Angeles. Walker was making a tough pitch for Carter and the final decision came down to hard work. Carter wanted to have to work hard.
“I didn’t want anything handed to me,” said Carter, thinking back to nearly three years ago. “I want to earn everything.”
That is exactly what he did. When Carter arrived on campus, he was forced to sit out due to NCAAtransfer rules. In his first season of eligibility, he was behind two experienced running backs that shouldered nearly the entire rushing load the prior yearbut emerged as the primary back for the majority of the season. In fall camp leading up to the 2011 season, Carter saw maybe his most intense competition in the form of bruising running back Chris Nwoke and dedicated senior Derek Good. Once again, he emerged as the starter.
“Ray is a competitive player,” said Smith. “You can see him working hard even after the whistle blows in practice.”
If there is anyone who knows Carter’s competiveness, it’s Smith. The two friends compete in everything; on the field and off.
“Man, we even go back and forth in video games,” Smith said, donning a smile.
Their friendship is a taste of home to Carter. While his family has been able toattend a number of games, having a childhood friend by his side through it all has been nice.
“We are like brothers,” Smith explained of his relationship with Carter. “We can critique each other, push each other; it never lets up. I call his mom, Mom.”
Naturally, the two are roommates. They split the dishes, split the shopping and split the cooking. Who’s the better cook? Well, that is the one thing Carter will relinquish to Smith but says he is working on his cooking.
Either way, Carter has defensive coordinators cooking up ways to slow him down. Entering the Boise State game, Carter leads the Rams in rushing, averaging nearly5 yards per carry. He is considered the best blockingRB and is a threat in the passing attack.
Really, for someone whose life took many twists and turns, Carter seems to be pretty happy with the way things turned out. It sure hasn’t stopped him from planning what he is going to do upon graduation,even if he isn’t fortunate to make an NFL regular-season roster.
“If the league doesn’t work out, I’ll keep trying to play,” said Carter. “If that means going to Canada, I’ll do it. I am not ready to give up the game. I want to go into coaching football after it all.”
All from a kid who didn’t want to touch a football.
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