Barrett Carter has gotten his fair share of playing time as the season has gone on.
Sure, injuries have played a part in that, but even as Clemson’s linebacker room has stayed relatively healthy, Carter has forced his way into the equation.
The true freshman linebacker out of North Gwinnett (Suwanee, Ga.) is a former top-35 recruit and has earned the trust of the staff. Speaking with reporters Monday, he talked about how he’s been able to see the field early.
“I think it’s just the more time I put in the film room and just the more knowledge I’m learning from like [James] Skalski, Baylon [Spector], Nolan [Turner] and even Coach Venables, just getting a feel for the defense,” Carter said. “Coming in the summer, it’s a lot to process. Just the experience and those guys taking me under their wing(s) and all that stuff have helped me get on the field some more.”
Carter was asked just how difficult that transition was. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables’ scheme is not one you pick up overnight.
“It definitely wasn’t easy,” he said. “It takes a lot of time and a lot of dedication. I didn’t expect it to be easy. I think that’s a part of why you come to Clemson, just for the challenge. It definitely isn’t easy, but just having the fifth and sixth-year guys on the team, they really help you because it’s really like having two or three more Coach Venables on the field with you when you’re out there with them. They’ve definitely made the process of learning the defense much easier.”
During Saturday’s 27-17 loss at Pitt, Carter was beaten by Panthers wide receiver Taysir Mack, who caught a 39-yard go-ahead touchdown from Kenny Pickett.
“It was just bad execution by me,” Carter explained. “I don’t put that on anybody else, but myself. I could have played that much better than I did. I don’t really know much else to say, but it’s just bad execution on me. I take full blame for that. We’re gonna bounce back from it. I don’t put that play on anybody else but myself. Just a freshman mistake. I’m gonna learn from it and just get better from it.”
Carter indicated that the play in question was bad technique on his part. He started pedaling outwards and nothing that Mack did took him outwards. It was just bad technique and execution on his part. Regardless, he thinks he can keep up with
“I feel like I can run with anybody in the country who I face up against,” Carter said. “That’s just the confidence that I have in myself and my training, my background, where I’m from. Just all that, I feel like it’s all prepared me for this type of experience.”
Following Saturday’s game, Venables called the 4th-and-6 play “the most inopportune drive of the night.” Though, he later admitted Monday that he put Carter in a tough spot.
While the play didn’t unfold as Carter would’ve liked for it to, it’s clear the coaching staff already has confidence in the true freshman to put him in situations like that, to begin with.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “I’m glad that I was just out there and that Coach Venables called that play. That shows that he has the trust in me. I just got to keep building on that and keep improving, to have him trust me even more.”
Carter attributes being able to play early to his high school coach, Bill Stewart, who had him play a similar role at North Gwinnett. Carter played all around the field, safety, linebacker and even some offense. It’s helped him prepare for this current moment, he added.
That role in Venables’s defense was a big factor in why Carter chose Clemson.
“Seeing what he’s done with past players in my position like Isaiah Simmons, Dorian O’Daniel, Mike Jones. Just those players, seeing what he’s done with them in that versatile way, that definitely as a recruit makes you want to come to play for him, just learn under him and be the next great one to come out of Clemson.”
Carter studied all three linebackers before getting to Clemson. He wanted to be able to learn from the guys who mastered that role under Venables’s tutelage, specifically O’Daniel because Carter is a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs and Simmons, who has had a profound impact on the positionless position and the game itself.
“He changed really the culture in football itself,” Carter said…”He truly changed the game of football with his versatility, just lining up anywhere on the field and making plays wherever it is.”
From Simmons to Skalski to Spector, Carter has had a good barometer of how linebacker play should look like in the Purple and Orange. With that being said, he’s enthralled about what the future of that position looks like with him, Trenton Simpson and LaVonta Bentley leading the way.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “Skalski and Baylon, they set the standard. They showed us what leadership and hard work are all about. The future of Clemson is going to be very bright. Just learning under them and under Coach Venables, I’m excited for what the future is going to look like.”