'..I came here with a new mindset..': Carter talks about growth, conditioning his body to take on more reps
Jalen Carter's first media session went better as it went on...
Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter is a very soft-spoken individual, although, on the gridiron, he is one of the most hard-hitting and feared players in the entire country.
Carter, who is a former five-star high school prospect from Apopka, Fl., loves the game of football.
If it were up to him, he wouldn’t come off of the field, which is a testament to how much he loves the game.
The 6-foot-3, 310-pound defensive tackle totaled 37 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and one pass deflection during his sophomore campaign for the Bulldogs in 2021.
Carter managed those numbers last year while splitting snaps with former teammates Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt, who are both projected to be 2022 NFL Draft first-round picks.
“They taught me a lot about how everything goes,” he said. “They’ve told me what I need to learn, what I need to do, the technique and everything. They explained why Coach (Tray) Scott coaches us like he has to coach us. I talked to JD (Jordan Davis) a lot while I was being recruited. He taught me a lot and told me everything that I needed to know.”
Carter was a highly recruited prospect in the class of 2020. He was rated the nation’s No. 18 overall player, No. 4 defensive tackle and No. 3 prospect out of Florida, per the 247Sports Composite.
Regardless, he doesn’t consider himself a former five-star and just focuses on getting better at his craft.
"Being a five-star is cool and all, but I came here with a new mindset saying that I have to earn everything I do,” Carter said. “Just playing with the guys, I feel like I've done what was needed."
Carter even disregarded a comment about him being the new face of the Bulldogs’ defense.
“I wouldn’t say I’m the face,” Carter said. “I don’t know. I don’t know how to answer that question.”
For him, it’s all about getting better, and according to Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, Carter can certainly do that.
“The talent is oozing,” Smart said told the media on Tuesday night. “Now, it’s a matter of if can he play every play with maximum intensity and be able to sustain it? He was in a three-man weave triangle last year, and it was easy to sub him (out) because you weren’t having a big drop-off on the field. We need him to play more snaps this year. We need him to be on the field, we need him to be active, and we need him to play first, second, and third (down) in a row. Not first and second and then some thirds. Can he do that?”
Carter has been putting in the work during the offseason, which could benefit him next season.
“I’ve been conditioning,” he said. “That’s a big topic with Kirby. He wants me to be the most conditioned on the team, so I can take multiple reps. That’s how I can help this team get better.”
His excellence has been evident on the field throughout the past few years, and not only on defense.
Carter has lined up at both fullback and tight end in certain situations as a part of Georgia’s jumbo package. He’s taken on three men at once, helping running back Kendall Milton score. Carter has also caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Stetson Bennett.
Carter smiled when asked about playing on offense, stating, “I love it. I really wish I could play a little more, but whatever they need me to do, I’ll do. I’m just going to have fun with it.”
Probably one of the more memorable plays that Carter was involved in was his blocked field goal attempt against Alabama in the 2022 CFP National Championship Game.
“It happened really fast,” Carter said. “When I blocked the kick, I just saw everyone running to me. I didn’t really process it until James Cook got the run. Then I was like, ‘Wow.’ I knew it was big.”
Smart has talked to his talented defensive tackle in the offseason about improving his “stamina.”
“He and I have talked about it,” Smart said. “He has (had) flash plays and he is really athletic. … Just needs to play with consistent effort.”
Imagine blocking Carter or facing him at practice. Well, Georgia tight end Brett Seither talked about that task last week during the Bulldogs’ Thursday media availability.
“Sadly, I have done that,” Seither said. “I don’t think that I’ve won one of those matchups. That’s another freak-athlete who is not fun to go against. He’s a hell of a player.”
Still, even as his progression has shown over the last two seasons, his No. 1 goal is to push himself.
“It’s (about) conditioning and getting more reps,” he said. “I know a lot of reps are going to come my way because all the focus is on me, so I’ve been running a lot to get better and have more reps.”
Besides that, he also wants Georgia’s defensive front to also be the best it can be.
“You know, we keep the main thing the main thing,” Carter said. “Stopping the run is what we’ve been working on.”
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