August 30, 2009

Countdown to kickoff: No. 6 - Russell Carter

Name: Russell Carter

Position: Defensive end

Classification: Sophomore

Prep credentials: The former Houston Westbury star was a four-star prospect (5.8) who was ranked as the nation's No.12 strong-side defensive end (behind fellow in-state prospect Richetti Jones) and the No.218 overall prospect in the nation by Rivals. Carter was ranked as the No.17 overall prospect in the state by Lone Star Recruiting and ranked No.24 by Rivals.

Click here to see Carter's high school film

2008 stats: The redshirt freshman didn't see much action in 2008, as he played in only five games and only recorded two quarterback pressures.

2008 Honors: None

Best game in 2008: Both of Carter's quarterback pressures from last season occurred in the Rice game.

Scouting Report: With a potential superstar in Sergio Kindle, several other high-level returning players and a freshman sensation Alex Okafor manning the defensive end position in 2009, it's easy to forget about Carter, who was one of the state's top defensive prospects in 2007. Yes, the defensive end position is locked and loaded with talented performers, but don't sleep on Carter because he's very quietly starting to emerge as a player that needs to be in the discussion with his more acclaimed teammates.

At 6-3, 245 pounds, Carter is an extremely physical player that plays well at the point of attack and has some pass rush skills off the edge. If there's an issue with his play against the run, it's only the attention to detail. Carter arrived at Texas as a raw, athletic player that needed a lot of instruction and when he does have struggles, it's usually a technique issue. As Carter continues to improve the ability to use his hands and get off of blocks, he has a chance to emerge as run defender that can play sideline-to-sideline. Some of Carter's most memorable moments in scrimmage have occurred through backside pursuit or via his ability to string out running plays directed right at him.

Of course, if Carter is going to significantly more playing time, he'll have to continue to improve on his pass rush skills, which lag behind a few of his peers at the position. It's not that he's not a good pass rusher, it's that he's not as advanced as his competition. The only thinking lacking is a little more versatility in his approach because he doesn't have the speed or burst off the ball to rely on a pure outside rush. Instead, he's a guy that gets to the quarterback by combining his athletic ability with strength and a relentless effort. While he might not get off the ball like a rocket, the threat of him running straight through a blocker because of his strength makes him a different kind of match-up problem for opposing tackles.

The big hope… Carter emerges as a strong member of the defensive end rotation and can help with run support against teams on the schedule that pose a serious threat of establishing a power running attack.

The big worry… The depth at the position combined with his still developing skill set will make him a player that's still a season away from a meaningful contribution.

Did you know? Carter can play the violin.

NFL Scouting report: "I haven't seen him play at all, but I did run into in the weight room at Texas this spring and he's a good looking kid. I someone inside who he was. The coaches like him, I know that."

The bottom line: Carter is flying below the radar, but only because of the talented depth in front of him. There's no question that he's flying low under the radar heading into the season, but Carter can flat out play - he just needs the opportunity. Whether he gets those opportunities in small or big doses this season remains to be seen.

No.7 - Fozzy Whittaker
No.8 - Justin Tucker
No.9 - Lamarr Houston
No.10 - Dan Buckner
No.11 - Eddie Jones
No.12 - Tre Newton
No.13 - Emmanuel Acho
No.14 - John Chiles
No.15 - Kheeston Randall
No.16 - David Snow
No.17 - Curtis Brown
No.18 - Malcolm Williams
No.19 - Keenan Robinson
No.20 - Vondrell McGee
No.21 - Blake Gideon
No.22 - Adam Ulatoski
No.23 - Ben Alexander
No.24 - James Kirkendoll
No.25 - Jared Norton

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