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Jacarde Carter next in line at Grambling
Cliff Exama was always in Jacarde Carter’s ear during Carter’s freshman football season at Grambling State.
“Your whole playing career, you have to seize the moment, take it for what it is and build from that,” Carter said of Exama’s advice.
When Carter saw Bryan Nelson’s fumble on the ground in the fourth quarter of December’s Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Game, he did exactly what his senior teammate told him. Carter seized the loose ball and scooted 66 yards for the decisive score in Grambling’s 16-15 victory. The victory capped a season-ending seven-game win streak while the play helped propel Carter into the discussion of who would replace Exama, the 2011 SWAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year.
Carter finished last season fourth on the team with 66 total tackles while enduring the typical freshman learning curve.
“The way the season played out last year, I started out good in the Port City Classic
then I had a little injury bug, a spider bite,” Carter said. “From there, it was up and down. I had a good game, then a bad game then the championship.”
As his voice trailed off, a broad smile took its place similar to the one he put on coach Doug Williams’ face in December.
Despite Carter’s late-season exploits and the confidence they built, Williams isn’t quite ready to anoint him as Exama’s successor in terms of performance.
“Only the season will tell that” Williams said. “We can talk about who will fill in for who, but, at the same time, do we fill in with the same quality of a Cliff Exama? I do feel Jacarde is a good football player and it’s a possibiliy he does that. The most important thing is the people in front of him. If the young defensive linemen play up to par, the way we would like them to do, it will give him an opportunity to be like that.”
The 6-foot, 230-pound Carter and Exama played behind an experienced defensive front last season. That won’t be the case this season.
Antonio Leonard completed his eligibility last season while Jomarcus Savage is academically ineligbile.
In their place are youngsters like Trae Ford, a Farmerville product, and Devon Carter. The GSU defensive line added some experience in the form of Louisiana Tech transfer Eric Harper, but remains a mostly youthful group.
Much like Exama did for him a season ago, Carter is in the role of elder statesman, helping guide Ford and the rest of the young defenders along.
It didn’t take long for Carter to settle in behind his new front line.
“I’m definitely starting to feel more confident playing behind them,” he said. “Even though they’re young, they want to work hard. I’d be doing Savage and Blade a disservice to say we don’t miss them. They were good, real good. They knew what to do. In camp this year, we’re more so breaking it down. The younger guys are getting better. They’re bringing their hard hat and working hard.”
By Jason Pugh, Shreveport Times