August 21, 1998
Turlock - Although he's just barely gotten started on his college career, sophomore defensive end Andre Carter is already be ranked as one of the Top 10 defensive ends in college football and may already be Cal's most recognized player across the nation.
He may also be Cal's most low key players.
Being rated the No. 1 prep defensive lineman in the country in 1996 by Parade Magazine, coming to Cal last fall and moving into the starting line-up before half of his freshman year was up and then quickly developing into an impact player in the Pac-10, would cause most to add a little strut to their step.
But that just isn't in the make-up of the 6-5, 245-pound sack machine. Instead, he quietly works at his craft, does the things he knows will help him become a better player. He also prefers talking about how dominant the Cal defense may be this coming season, instead of what he may, himself, accomplish.
While others may be gulping Creatine or other artificially induced muscle stimulants and perfecting their dance routines and arm thrusts in preparation of a future big play, Carter is doing things the old-fashioned way. He is spending hour after hour working on techniques will improve his pass-rushing techniques. He also puts in his time, and a little more, with strength coach Todd Rice in the weight rooms gradually building his body weight and strength.
"Andre is the perfect team player," says head coach Tom Holmoe. "He is one of the premier players in the game, but he knows that he will only get better if he continues to work hard. He doesn't say a lot, he leads by example."
Since he arrived at Cal last fall, he's improved his bench press 30 pounds to 365 pounds and he's put on nearly 10 pounds. He's also not yet the superstar that most are projecting in his future, but that seems to suit him just fine. Many philosophers claim that true joy is in the journey, not the ultimate destination, and Carter truly seems to enjoy his time developing as a football player and student-athlete. When the pre-season football preview magazines emerged on the newsstands in the summer with numerous accolades for Carter, his reaction was muted when friends or family informed him they rated him among the best defensive linemen in the country.
"I thought it was an honor, but I don't let that stuff get to my head," he said. "I need to focus on my thing on the football field. My dad called me and said he saw the stuff in the magazines and I was happy, but it's not like that stuff motivates me any more than I would normally be.
"I feel like I can be as good as I want to be, but I don't think about any specific numbers. I just want to be a dominant defensive end in the Pac-10. The main thing is helping our defense and winning some games."
Carter's approach to fame probably isn't that unusual considering the fact that his father, Rubin had a long NFL career with the Denver Broncos and so being in the spotlight isn't that unusual.
His dad, now a defensive line coach at Maryland, continues to be a mentor. "During the summer we were able to work on technique, but now he's across the country so it makes it more difficult. But we still talk over the phone whenever we can. I miss him a lot."
Obviously, both his mother and father have a great deal to do with his humility and work ethic. While most players with his credentials would have migrated to traditional football factories, Carter instead chose Cal for the combination of strong academics and what he feels is an up-and-coming football program. After a strong year academically as a freshman, he's now targeting entry into the prestigious Haas School of Business a year from now, with an emphasis on economics.
He says his first year was everything he expected. "I really like it at Cal," he says. "It's a multi-cultural experience that I really enjoy. I just like meeting new people."
Carter may meet a lot of new people this year in opponent backfields as virtually every pre-season magazine projects him as a first team Pac-10 performer.
If he fulfills those projections, don't expect any big celebrations. He'll be quietly working towards even bigger goals in the future.
by Kevin Reneau