ORLANDO — Even without the unique first name, Toneil Carter has the game to stand out.
Carter, who rushed for 1,216 yards and 18 touchdowns this past season for Langham Creek (Houston), was one of the Under Armour Future 50 players at a one-day camp Friday at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. Carter’s quickness separates him on the gridiron. He ran the 100 meters in 10.87 seconds last spring.
“I’m a speed back,” Carter said. “The other backs here are jumpers and they run over guys. I’m not as big as them, so I don’t do that stuff.”
A junior, Carter will watch the Under Armour All-America Game on Saturday at the Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium. Next year, he’ll likely be on the field for the game. Most of the players in this year’s Under Armour All-America Game were in last year’s Future 50 camp.
Carter got plenty of attention as a sophomore when he ran for 1,382 yards and 19 touchdowns. On a team that went only 5-5 this season, he was responsible for 46% of the Lobos’ carries and 52% of the team’s rushing yardage and opposing defenses keyed on him.
“I went up against an eight-man box almost every game,” Carter said. “We used a lot of two-back. We did some spread at the beginning of the season, but then we went back to the two-back.”
Teams that didn’t respect Carter’s speed paid the price.
“He would gap guys,” Langham Creek teammate Chase McCray said with a laugh. “He would gap them, then look back, disrespecting them.”
Listed as the No. 32 player in 247Sports.com’s composite rankings for the 2017 class, Carter has 18 offers from FBS schools, the first coming from Texas Tech when he was a freshman. He’s uncommitted but Louisiana State may hold some sway because of the family’s New Orleans roots.
“We love LSU,” said his older brother Byron Carter. “We still go back to New Orleans a couple of times a year, usually for Thanksgiving and holidays like that. The option is still open and available. We will let Toneil consider everything. We’re doing our research on everything, not just football but for his education.”
Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans when Toneil was eight years old and his immediate family was made homeless by the storm and uprooted to Mississippi, then to Houston.
“We were in the Central City area in New Orleans and we got the after-effect,” Byron said. “Once the levee broke, the water rose. Prior to the storm, my mom (Glenda) was rebuilding our home and her thought was, if we lost everything during the storm, we might as well go over and start over in Texas. She rebuilt from scratch.”
Five years later, in 2009, the family was dealt another setback when his mother died after a bout with cancer and Byron, then 18, had to take over the household.
Though only 5-11 and 205, Toneil enjoys playing defense on kickoffs, but knows he has to get bigger at the next level.
“As a running back, we take a lot of hits, so it’s always good to be able to hit somebody else,” Toneil said. “Right now, I’m just trying to put as much weight on as I can and turn it into muscle and see where it goes from there. I know at the next level, people will be way bigger than me.”