A lot has changed for T.J. Carter over the past year.
Since last fall, Carter has transferred from Hendersonville to Stratford, picked up a new position and even changed jersey numbers.
However, one thing has remained the same for the 5-foot-11, 185-pound athlete.
“I like the big play moment,” said Carter, who eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last season at Hendersonville. “When it’s crunch time, I want the ball in my hands.”
Carter was dismissed from Hendersonville’s team after the 2015 season for breaking team rules.
Carter, a three-star cornerback who is considering offers from Georgia Tech, Louisville, Memphis and Mississippi State, comes in at No. 9 on this year’s Dandy Dozen, the top senior college football prospects in Middle Tennessee as selected by The Tennessean high school sports staff with input from area high school coaches and recruiting services.
“I think really the biggest thing is his work ethic, and really he’s pretty modest,” second-year Stratford coach Maurice Fitzgerald said. “You don’t get that, ‘I’m a great player,’ or ‘I’m a better player,’ or any of that. He brings a calmness, competitiveness and leadership, and really just being one of the guys.”
While Carter is transitioning from Hendersonville’s Wing-T offensive scheme to the more balanced offense employed by Stratford, his learning curve hasn’t been as steep as one might expect.
“I actually played with Coach Fitzgerald in middle school so I’m already used to some of the plays he runs and his coaching style and all that,” said Carter, who played for Fitzgerald at Smithson Craighead Academy in Madison. “It wasn’t a big change for me because I’m used to it.
“Really it’s like coming back home.”
Carter, who ran the ball a team-leading 142 times last season, likely won’t see near as many carries as he did at Hendersonville, but that’s not to say he won’t be just as valuable offensively.
“I’ll be playing more at receiver so I’ll be getting the ball in many different ways, not just running like I was at Hendersonville,” Carter said. “I’ll be catching passes and, of course, kick returns and punt returns and things like that.”
No. 9 – T.J. Carter
Height: 5-11 Weight: 180
247Sports composite: Three stars
College plans: Considering offers from Auburn, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and South Carolina, among others.
2015 statistics: The transfer from Hendersonville and 2015 All-Midstate second-teamer had a team-leading 1,004 yards and 10 touchdowns on 142 carries while also posting 16 tackles.