Every time SI All-American checks in with those around Lewis Carter, we learn something new of the versatile Tampa (Fla.) Catholic athlete.
We stopped in at practice last week and he was noticeably absent, for a great reason. It was the same day as the final practice for the Crusaders’ 4×400 relay team just two days before the state track meet.
The state-qualifying group featured longtime track athletes to smaller, more slender sprinters — and then Carter. The 6′, 205-pound sophomore is an anomaly relative to most in the field at that distance, just another example of the raw athletic talent he possesses.
It’s more impressive knowing track was always just a supplement to football.
“It’s a lot, but also that’s what comes with it when you work hard,” Carter told SI All-American. “Work pays off, recruiting comes with it. Track comes up, I just started in it to keep my speed up in the offseason. It keeps me active.”
The speed on the track, at that size, pairs with strong varsity tape in 2019 as a freshman and this past fall as a sophomore, where Carter has made plays on both sides of the football.
The scholarship offer list continues to grow, with Maryland offering on Friday, as the total hits the two-dozen mark. Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M, Auburn, Penn State, Miami and droves of other national programs are already in on the two-way talent.
Other programs, like Ohio State and Notre Dame, could be on the cusp as the recruiting world continues to evaluate the position projection that has felt fluid for years.
“A lot of coaches hit me with that,” he said. “They offer me a scholarship and it’s like, ‘we just want you here.’ It’s also a lot for me because I want to know, at the highest level, what position I’m going to end up at so I can focus and key in on one or two positions.
“Since I moved to defense, most colleges are saying linebacker, while others are saying strong safety. Some still say running back, from freshman year, where I had half my film at. It makes it harder.”
While the where, on the field, remains up in the air there are in-state relationships developing with the programs happy to bring Carter in the recruiting class of 2023.
It starts hyper local.
“I feel very comfortable with the coach from USF, Ernie Sims,” he said. “I’ve been talking to him for a while but he just offered me a few weeks ago. He teaches me a lot of stuff about recruiting, him being a former 5-star athlete, like filling me in on what I should be doing with college recruiting. The information I should be taking down when I’m talking to coaches to drills I will be doing at the college level.”
Up I-75 in Gainesville, The Florida Gators have long been in contact and offered in February.
“Coach (Greg) Knox, the running back coach at Florida, we FaceTime every now and then,” he said. “He also fills me in on what’s going on, what’s the life at Florida. He says I can play anywhere, he doesn’t just want me for linebacker. He says I’ll be a benefit to the team.”
The other direction on the interstate features the Miami Hurricanes, where one of America’s top secondary recruiters has connected with Carter.
“Miami, I’ve talked to Coach Terry (Travaris Robinson) a couple of times, he seems like a very good coach,” he said. “I talked to him again about three weeks ago.”
Not only will one of Tampa’s top talents make unofficial visits this summer as the NCAA Dead Period comes to a close, he is likely to camp at places like Ohio State along the way. As the offer list potentially grows further, Carter will begin to narrow his focus this fall.
A decision is more likely following the 2021 season.
“I want to play for a unit, a family that plays like one team,” he said. “I’ve got to find a place like home for me. If I leave Florida, I want to feel like I’m at home and really wanted here.”
Carter, who totaled 80 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three sacks and an interception in 2020, will help lead Tampa Catholic to Deltona (Fla.) for a spring exhibition on May 21.
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