Oct. 10, 2007
To play cornerback at Florida State you’ve got to have a certain attitude. Whether it’s Deion Sanders, Terrell Buckley or Antonio Cromartie, if you play corner for the Seminoles you have to have a swagger. FSU’s newest All-American candidate Tony Carter has just that. When the opposing team’s quarterback puts the ball in the air, it belongs to Carter. Whether it’s a simple out route, or a team foolishly thinking it would be a good idea to throw deep on No. 4, it is his ball.
“I just feel like it’s your ball or he’s not going to catch it,” said Carter. “You can’t really be a hesitant type of person or scared at all. You’ve got to have confidence.”
Standing 5’9″, one wouldn’t think Carter has any business carrying a swagger on the football field. After all, he’s charged with shutting down players three or four inches taller. Yet that doesn’t seem to phase the
Jacksonville native, in fact Carter enjoys the challenge.
“You just have to go out there and do your job and prove them wrong,” said Carter. “If they come at you make them pay or just be consistent and I feel like if a guy is 6’4″ and I’m 5’9″, if I jump 38 inches
then we’re the same height. It evens its way out, technique and effort will out-do talent any day I think.”
That technique and effort has been proven since the first day Carter stepped on campus. Recruited out of high school as a four-star prospect and the second-ranked cornerback in the nation, he had the reputation.
The question was would that translate on the field at the college level? With five interceptions and 19 pass break-ups in 27 games as a starter, consider that your answer. However, none of this has come easy for
Carter. Behind the statistics lies a player who has spent hours perfecting his craft, making him one of the Seminoles’ most consistent performers.
“He’s a good worker; Tony’s main asset is he’s quick,” said Florida State defensive coordinator and secondary coach Mickey Andrews. “He’s smart, he understands football, and he understands concepts of routes of coverages. He competes and he likes to win.”
“I practice hard, I go out everyday and try to work on the little things,” said Carter. “Whether it’s one day I might say I am going to try and use my hands, the next day I might go out and work on my footwork, and the next day I might focus on the little things and then I’ll go out and try to put it all together.”
Carter’s on field work ethic spills over into one of his favorite activities, watching film. The redshirt junior can’t wait to turn out the lights and break down the tendencies of his next opponent. If there’s an edge to be had, Carter will find it.
“In the film room, that’s my favorite thing to do,” said Carter. “You get to study your opponent, you get to watch the player you’re playing against and it gives you an advantage. An offensive guy can’t really watch
a defensive back and say this is how he does this and this is how he does that because he’s playing against a different receiver. But a receiver doesn’t really change up much from week to week, except they may run
different plays. I like studying the whole offense as a total and try to figure out their concepts. It makes it a lot easier on Saturdays.”
“You can’t get a true picture every day from the scout team,” said Andrews. “The best way to do it is to learn against the people you’re playing against and you do that by studying film. If they’re real serious
about winning and being their best, they’ll study those tapes.”
Hard work on and off the field prepares Carter mentally and physically every week, yet there’s still the issue of his stature. Coaches say you can’t coach size, so how does FSU’s most experienced corner prepare for those mismatches? That answer is easy and it comes in the form of 6’6″ Seminole wide out Greg Carr.
“I go against Greg Carr everyday in practice, so I don’t think anyone can get really taller than him,” said Carter. “We’ve been going at it since we were freshmen; 6’6″ versus 5’9″ everyday in practice, I’m pretty used to it.”
“If you’re short and you play short, you’re not going to do very well,” said Andrews. “If you’re a little
shy on height against the guy you’re covering and you get your body into him and you out fight him for the football, won’t let him catch it, there’s not a problem.”
Every Saturday without fail, another quarterback drops back to pass and thinks he has an open receiver on No. 4’s side of the field. Of course Tony Carter knows different, he knows that the ball spiraling towards the receiver will be snatched from the air by his hands because every throw belongs to him. When you’re
a cornerback at Florida State, that’s the only way it can be.
By Layne Herdt Sports Information Graduate Assistant