This week, Clemson’s Ryan Carter has become known more as the subject of one of head coach Dabo Swinney’s epic press conference rants than as one of the Tigers’ starting quarterbacks.
In his Tuesday news conference, when Swinney was asked if he was surprised by how well Carter, a 2-star recruit when he was offered a scholarship by Clemson, has played the last two seasons, Swinney launched into a 4-minute spiel on the “narrative” surrounding Carter’s recruitment.
In a story by Matt Connolly of the State, Carter told the full story of the “narrative” Swinney referenced.
Carter was part of a loaded senior class at Grayson (Ga.) High School that included former Clemson and current New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman, 4-star defensive back David Kamara, and the No. 1 overall recruit in the country, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche.
Carter told Connolly that he and Nkemdiche were best friends in middle and high school. Nkemdiche’s recruitment essentially came down to Clemson and Mississippi, and in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nkemdiche said that if Clemson offered Carter it was a “done deal” that he would play there.
Both Clemson and Ole Miss ended up offering Carter a scholarship, but many assumed both schools were only interested in Carter to try to land Nkemdiche. That is the idea that Swinney ranted about Tuesday.
“We don’t sign people here who we don’t think can play great football for us,” Swinney said. “We don’t sign those guys. So damn right, yeah, that’s why we signed him, because we thought he could be a great player at Clemson. And we would have committed him a whole lot earlier had it not been because of the ridiculous narrative in the recruiting world of, ‘we’re only going to offer this guy because of another guy at that school.’”
In the end, Nkemdiche chose Ole Miss, but Carter felt that Clemson’s interest was more genuine, so he signed with the Tigers.
Now, Carter has become an invaluable piece of Clemson’s defense. Last season, as a redshirt junior, he totaled 29 tackles, 7 pass breakups and an interception as a starter during Clemson’s national title run. This year, Carter has started all five games and accumulated 12 tackles and 4 pass breakups.
Carter told Connolly that he and Nkemdiche are still close, but looking back, Carter is thankful that the two went their separate ways.
“I think that was the best thing that could have happened was me going a different route,” Carter said. “We were always just so close, and I think it was good for me to experience something else and not be under that wing of Robert Nkemdiche. I really thank God for that.”