Wherever he lands, stellar DE Zachary Carter ready to 'make an impact'

Wherever he lands, stellar DE Zachary Carter ready to 'make an impact'

by - Correspondent -

And then there were four.

After fielding offers from more than three dozen schools, 2017 strong-side defensive end Zachary Carter has whittled his list down to Clemson, Florida, South Florida and Tennessee.

The consensus four-star prospect from Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Florida – rated No. 2 nationally at his position by – posted his choices Friday evening on his Twitter account.

In a phone conversation with TigerNet recently, Carter said he wants to focus on helping lead his team to a successful season before making a final decision.

“I think we're going to have a good season,” Carter said of his team. “(Last year) was my first year playing defensive end, but I still think I did well. I have a lot of things I feel like I can improve on a lot to take my game to a whole other level.”

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound defender pictures himself stepping into a greater leadership role for the 2016 Terriers.

“The last two years it's been like a 'pass the torch' thing, and now it's my turn to step up and be a leader,” he said. “So I've really been trying to push the guys and trying to keep everybody on the same page so they'll know our goals for this season.”

Carter listed defensive end Shaq Lawson as the Clemson Tiger he most enjoyed following, and he said the national championship game versus Alabama cemented his opinion of Clemson's program and how far it has risen.

“I was really impressed with how they played,” Carter said. “I've been watching them over the last few years, and I think they've really been a program that all their hard work is starting to show to the world that they're different. … I think people are finally able to see it now with their success on the field.”

Tony Elliott and Marion Hobby have been the primary Clemson coaches recruiting Carter, though he said defensive coordinator Brent Venables has stayed in regular contact.

Carter said playing defensive end suits his skill set – he runs a 4.9-second 40-yard dash – and allows him to do the things he most enjoys on the football field. In 2015, he recorded 76 tackles – 10 for loss – and 5.5 sacks while breaking up three passes.

“I like being able to rush the quarterback, and coming off the edge I like to be mobile and chase down plays and run in pursuit and things like that," he said.

As for his summer plans, Carter is considering a return visit to Clemson next month for Dabo Swinney Football Camp.

“I thought the campus was beautiful,” he said of his previous visits, “and all the facilities were up to par. And I know they're building another big facility (the $55 million football complex, scheduled to open in 2017), so that's exciting.”

Even before listing the Tigers among his final four, Carter outlined the reasons the Clemson program stands out in his mind.

“Just the way that their program is run and the kinds of players and the kinds of coaches that they have,” he said. “That's really the big difference – that's it.”

From an academic standpoint, he said he's looking for a university with a good communications program that might allow him to pursue a career in broadcast journalism.

“I want education to be up to par wherever I go,” he said.

Carter said he's ready to compete for a starting job and that his budding leadership skills should serve him well, wherever he goes.

“I'm a hard worker, so wherever I go I know the school is getting a hard worker and a high-character kid. … I stay out of trouble,” he said. “And I think I could make an impact on the team that I go to.”

And while that team could very well be Clemson, that's a decision that will have to wait until later this year.

“I'm not making a decision until after this season,” he said.

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