Junior to Watch: Tony Carter
School: Jacksonville (Fla.) Mandarin High School
Size and speed: Carter is 5-foot-10, weighs 170 pounds and has been timed as low as 4.31 in the 40-yard dash in a camp setting. He consistently runs between 4.35 and 4.4.
Statistics: As a junior, he recorded 43 solo tackles, nine interceptions, four interception returns for touchdowns, four blocked punts and three blocked kicks.
Honors: Was selected third-team Class 6A all-state by the FSWA.
Favorite Schools: Florida State, Florida, Miami.
Skinny: Jacksonville’s Mandarin High School has produced a steady flow of top D-I talent and a handful of NFL players in recent years, and Mustangs coach Richard Brunoski says he’s got the next great one lined up for the Class of 2004.
“Tony Carter is the real deal,” Brunoski said. “He’s already got offers from Florida State, Florida and Miami, and those guys don’t offer a whole lot of DBs this early. From my point of view, there can’t be more than four or five guys in the country better than him. He’s going to be playing on Sundays someday. We had Fred Weary and Kevin Booker, and he’s more skilled than those guys were at this stage.
“The first time I ever put him in the game here, he picked off a pass and took it to the house. I knew I had something special.”
Blazing speed and overall athleticism are what sets Carter apart. Brunoski said his star turned in a 4.31 forty on grass at FSU’s camp last year. He also boasts a 40-inch vertical leap.
“He’s a kid who’s so fast and so athletic, he seems to be all over the field,” Brunoski said. “He had nine interceptions last year, and took four of them back for touchdowns. He also blocked seven kicks or punts. The kid can really get up.
“He’s the best cover man, skill-wise, we’ve ever had. He just locks down the receiver.”
Carter, who also plays basketball and runs the 110-meter high hurdles in track, has been invited to the Nike combine at Florida. He also plans to return to the FSU camp this summer. He’s receiving heavy interest from Maryland, N.C. State and South Carolina as well.
“My gut feeling is he stays in state,” Brunoski said, “and I think it will end up being Florida State. His dad played basketball there, and Mickey Andrews just loves him. He’s pushing hard to get that commitment.”