Aug. 21, 2000
As simple as that statement may be, it speaks volumes about the Bears senior defensive end.
By all accounts, Carter is recognized as one of the best linemen in the country. After picking up first team All-Pac-10 and second team All-America honors as a junior in 1999, he has been selected a preseason first team All-American for 2000 by several publications.
But Carter tosses those accolades aside when assessing his skills. Now in his fourth and final fall training camp in Turlock, Carter continues to set the standard for others to follow. Each session, he leads his defensive line teammates as the first player on the field and last one off. For Carter, there is always some phase of his game that he wants to perfect.
"Something clicked over the summer, whether it was at home or being with his dad or making a personal commitment to himself to reach a higher level," Dutton said. "He mentally has pushed himself to where he is playing better than at any time last year. Oftentimes, when you get to your senior year, you feel you know it all, you've done it for three years and you get into a comfort zone. Andre pushes himself everyday, every practice to get better."
Considering his statistics from last year, an improving Carter presents a scary obstacle for opposing offenses. During his junior season in '99, Carter recorded 20 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for minus 101 yards, tops among the Pac-10's linemen. In addition, he tied for third in the league with 10 sacks for minus 83 yards.
With similar numbers in 2000, Carter would challenge Cal's career record for sacks, as he enters the year with 17.5, just 10.5 less than Regan Upshaw's total of 28.0.
Talk of records, though, is of little interest to Carter. Ask him what is different about him this year, and the humble, 6-5, 265-pounder replies: "I'm trying to be more of a leader."
The reason for his development, especially heading into this season, may lie in his relationship to his father, Rubin, a former defensive lineman with the Denver Broncos who now serves as defensive line coach for the Washington Redskins. The last two summers, Carter has traveled back to the East Coast to stay and train with this father, often working out on the University of Maryland campus.
"He's a huge influence," said Carter of his father. "I feel training, like lifting and running, depends on how hard I want to work. But as far as technique, technical moves and attacking offensive linemen, he's definitely had an impact on me."
Perhaps it was those visits that helped Carter transform himself into the self-driven perfectionist that he has become.
"I haven't coached many in my career who have that kind of commitment and tenaciousness play after play after play," Dutton said.
For Andre Carter, that's just become part of his attitude.