Saturday, February 10, 2007

The legacy of #1 Anthony Carter

In recent days and weeks there has been a lot of discussion of landing out-of-state star recruits who could arrive at Michigan and make an immediate impact on the program as a true freshman. There has been non-stop talk about 5-star recruit Ryan Mallett from Texarkana, TX. The only problem is that he plays behind senior Chad Henne and thus Mallett will not have the chance to play a lot this year. The other 5-star recruit in the 2007 class is CB Donovan Warren from California. Warren will be competing for a starting job in the secondary this fall. However, the impact Warren or any of the other 2007 recruits will make this season will likely pale in comparison to the sensation caused in 1979 by a skinny true freshman from Riveria Beach, Florida.

Anthony Carter (or "AC" as he became known) was recruited by Coach Bo Schembechler from Sun Coast High School to play Wide Receiver and special teams. Carter was only 5'11" and was rail thin at 161 lbs. He was also painfully shy but Coach Schembechler saw the makings of a future star and Carter was assigned jersey #1. AC made a dramatic impact in his very first game as he scored a touchdown on a 78-yard punt return in the 1979 season opener versus Northwestern. From there, he never looked back. In game eight versus Indiana, he caught the legendary touchdown pass from Johnny "Wingin'" Wangler with no time left on the clock to give Michigan a 27-21 victory over Lee Corso's Indiana Hoosiers. AC kept up his heroics in the OSU game as he caught 2 passes for 125 yards including a 59-yard scoring pass from Wangler. In the Gator Bowl, AC continued his freshman brilliance as he caught 4 passes for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns. On the season he tallied 1,157 all-purpose yards (462 yds. receiving, 413 on kickoffs, 265 on punt returns) for an average of 96.4 yards per game. He averaged an amazing 27.2 yards per reception and he scored 7 receiving touchdowns.

AC's freshman season was only the beginning of course. He went on to have three consecutive seasons where he was named first-team All-American and he finished in the top-10 of the Heisman Trophy balloting in each of those years. (i.e., 1980: 10th place; 1981: 7th place; 1982: 4th place). AC made the #1 jersey what it is today and he created a legacy for all future recruits to follow. The new recruits may be bigger than the shy, slight kid from Riveria Beach, Florida but I doubt that they will ever be able to fill his shoes. Go Blue!

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