Dan Fleser: Boo Carter Is Making All The Right Moves For The Vols

  • Monday, April 15, 2024
Dan Fleser
Dan Fleser

From the time he arrived for bowl game practices in December until he recorded three tackles in last Saturday’s Spring Game, Boo Carter has made all the right moves as a Tennessee football freshman.

Don’t take my word for it. The Vols coaches have been noting the former Bradley Central standout’s progress every step of the way so far. He’s been deployed in the secondary, including a turn at the STAR position, a hybrid safety/linebacker position.  The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder also is getting a look as a kick returner on special teams.

Here’s a sampling of the running commentary on Carter, whose collegiate career is off and running:  

What was said: “We knew he was very versatile, there’s a lot of different things he can do.

Right now he’s concentrating on defense and trying to win some playing time or win a job. He’s been good so far. It’s a lot as a freshman as you know, but I think getting him early, getting a chance to get acclimated has really helped him.”

What does it mean: Defensive coordinator Tim Banks’ assessment came after the second spring practice. The timing and content indicate Carter has benefitted from enrolling early, and the coaching staff already was impressed enough to find Carter a position.

What was said: “I thought some of our young DBs showed up tackling in space. As we go through spring ball, those fundamentals are extremely important. Boo Carter did a great job making plays in space.”

What does it mean: Head coach Josh Heupel’s comment came after the first scrimmage and it was in response to a question regarding the young players in general. To mention Carter specifically was significant. For Carter to distinguish himself with his tackling was equally important. It’s the sort of skill that earns trust, which, in turn, translates to playing time.

What was said: “When he plays the STAR position, he’s getting us lined up better than he did in the first couple of practices, and he understands now how the tempo is . . . he’s a very competitive player, wants to win on every play. That’s what you love about him. It’s just trying to slow the process down for him, where it’s not happening too fast. It was early, but I think he’s doing a really nice job the last couple of practices.”

What does it mean: Secondary coach Willie Martinez’s comment, which came at the beginning of the third week, indicated that Carter was making progress. The sooner a young player shows he’s able to harness his ability, the better. Otherwise, coaches might be tempted to defer to a veteran player.

What was said: “I don’t bat an eye. If they are ready, they are ready. Boo Carter, I’m not saying he’s the guy, but he’s in that competition.  . . . Regardless of if he’s our returner this year, he’s going to play a ton of football around here. I absolutely love that guy.”

What does it mean: Carter is in the running to return kicks and special teams coordinator Mike Ekeler is impressed enough with him to become Carter’s hype man. That’s like having a church choir singing your praises. To borrow Ekeler’s trademark phrase, it sounds like Carter’s chili is getting hot.

What was said: “They’re high-level competitive individuals that have grown within the structure of our program, doing the right things outside the building as well. They’re intentional in the way that, you know, they sit in the meeting rooms, soak up knowledge and try to grow in their understanding of fundamentals, techniques and schemes.”

What does it mean: Heupel’s assessment of Carter and fellow freshman/Bradley Central alum Marcus Goree Jr., which came after Saturday’s Spring Game, was like the teacher giving the students an apple.

Sounds like Carter is studious in his approach and that trait will serve him as well as his physical skills at this early point in his development. Knowing what he’s doing will enable Carter to perform to the best of his abilities.
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Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri, who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 1988. He is a member of the Tennessee Sportswriters and the U.S. Basketball Writers Halls of Fame. He can be reached at danfleser3@gmail.com.

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