When Barrett Carter signed with Clemson in December, Dabo Swinney called the five-star linebacker one of the most dynamic players he’d ever inked during his tenure as the Tigers’ head coach.
The superlatives from his coaches continued for Carter this week. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables likened Carter’s skill set to that of former Clemson All-American Isaiah Simmons, who’s now with the Arizona Cardinals.
“A little bit,” Venables said Monday. “Some things are similar. He’s a little more natural at an early age than Isaiah.”
It’s an easy comparison to make. Carter has a long way to go if he’s going to morph into a first-round draft pick the way Simmons did in 2020. But like Simmons, Carter is a versatile athlete that has the kind of speed and agility that could be utilized at different positions.
“He runs really, really well. He’s a 4.5 guy all day,” Venables said, referencing Carter’s 40-yard dash time.
Clemson has used Carter solely at linebacker through the first eight games this season. He’s been used a bit more of late.
After playing just 62 snaps in the first six games, Carter got his first career start against Pitt two weeks ago, logging a season-high 46 snaps against the pass-happy Panthers. He finished with six tackles and one pass breakup.
“It’s really just how he’s maturing within our defense,” Venables said. “He’s a good football player.”
Carter got just 10 defensive snaps against FSU, a matchup more suited for Clemson’s starting linebacking corps of Baylon Spector, James Skalski and Trenton Simpson against a Seminoles team that prefers the run to the pass. But with Clemson leading FSU 24-20 in the final minute and the Seminoles needing to quickly move the ball through the air more than 80 yards away from a potential go-ahead touchdown with no timeouts, Carter was on the field to help with coverage.
As the final seconds ticked away, FSU found itself trying multiple laterals in an effort to pull off a miracle win. The ball ultimately ended up on the ground in the end zone, which Carter chased down to recover for his first career touchdown.
Like most first-year players, Venables said there are still mental nuances of Clemson’s defense that Carter is still working to fully grasp. But there aren’t many questions about his physical talent.
“Great hips and feet. He’s got a dynamic skill set,” Venables said. “Just trying to develop our team, and he’s got a great future.”