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Why Zachary Carter was a major recruiting win for Florida

Photo Credit: 247Sports

On the surface, maybe Zachary Carter doesn’t seem like the biggest commitment of all time for the Florida Gators.

After all, this is a program that has hauled in five-stars like Martez Ivey, CeCe Jefferson, Jalen Tabor and, of course, Tim Tebow (yes, Tebow Time was a five-star back in his day).

Carter is only a four-star and he’s only the No. 136-ranked recruit in the 2017 class. Even in his own state, he’s only the No. 25-ranked player from Florida. As a program like Florida’s top-rated recruit, that almost seems a bit underwhelming, no?

Perhaps on the surface, sure. But Carter is not your typical four-star recruit. It’s a big deal that he’s Florida’s top-rated recruit because he has the potential to be a big-deal as a college football player. Notice that his position ranking hasn’t been mentioned yet, and that’s where things really start to get impressive.

According to the industry generated 247Sports Composite, Carter is the No. 6 strong-side defensive end nationally. He’s ranked behind only five-star Iowa commit A.J. Epenesa, four-star Maryland commit Joshua Kaindoh, four-star All-American LaBryan Ray, four-star Texas commit Lagaryonn Carson and four-star The Opening finalist Malik Herring. It’s a strong group of defensive ends this cycle, so the fact that Carter is in the Top 10 is a big deal.

The rankings also only tell one so much about Carter. On film, he’s an absolute standout.

Carter is nearly 6-foot-5 and he’s 250 pounds, according to 247Sports. He also runs a 4.90 40-yard dash, which isn’t great, but when you consider his size and youth it is something to work with. Carter also has what’s known as football speed. He may not be the fastest straight-line runner, but he’s quick off the ball and is without a doubt a quick-twitch athlete.

He’s an imposing player at the line of scrimmage, which makes his grace and athleticism as a defender so impressive. Carter has good footwork and moves like a much smaller player. He also plays tight end for his high school, which is another testament to his athleticism. He gets into the backfield quickly, plays with strong leverage for being as tall as he is and uses his length and size to his advantage.

Especially with time in the Florida weight room, he has the frame to get much bigger and become a true run-stuffer at the college level. He has the strength, leverage and ability to fight through the wash to either get into the backfield or move laterally with a play to stop it at the line of scrimmage. With that said, as long as he doesn’t lose his quickness, he does project to be a good rusher as well. Florida could keep him on the edge, but he does a great job of using his hands to fight through blocks, so he’s the type of defensive lineman who could be versatile and play inside as well.

Either as a three-technique or five-technique, the Tampa, Fla. (Hillsborough), product has play-maker written all over him.

Carter has been committed to Florida since June of 2016 and for all the reasons above, he’s a huge commitment for the Gators. There’s also the recruiting race to consider, because he was a big recruiting win for Jim McElwain and the Florida staff as well.

He committed to Florida mainly over the Clemson Tigers in what was called a very close recruitment. Clemson wasn’t the only big-time program to offer him, though.

In all, Carter boasts 40 offers, which really tells the whole story of his potential. The rankings above may not have stood out, but 40 offers? That’s darn impressive. Auburn, Georgia, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Pitt, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Virginia and Virginia Tech, among others, offered Carter.

In the above list are SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 powers, so if there was any doubt that Carter is a stud power-five recruit, they should be erased at this point.

He’s going to be a good player for the Gators. He could have been a good player for just about any major college football program in the country, and that’s not something just the rankings can indicate.

On the surface, Carter may not seem like the biggest commitment ever for the Gators.

The surface is lying.

Why Zachary Carter was a major recruiting win for Florida

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