One in a series of short pieces about each Miami senior leading up to the Hurricanes’ final home game of 2016, Saturday against Duke.
The rest of the series:
S Jamal Carter | C Alex Gall | RG Danny Isidora | S Rayshawn Jenkins | P Justin Vogel | TE/DE Stan Dobard | CB Corn Elder | WR Malcolm Lewis | CB Adrian Colbert | WR Stacy Coley | FB Gage Batten | FB Marquez Williams | LS Frank Gabriel, five others
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Football players like to preach that the name on the front of their jersey is more important than the name on the back. And while safety Jamal Carter knows it will be an emotional day Saturday when he plays his final home game for the University of Miami, he also knows there are two letters on the back of his jersey pushing him not only against Duke but well beyond.
CARTER SR. it says on his No. 6 jersey, a tribute to his 3-year-old son, whom you can often pick out at UM home games because of his tiny No. 6 jersey with CARTER JR. on it.
Carter is hoping that the Duke game and UM’s bowl game aren’t the last times he slips on a jersey with CARTER SR., not only because he’s hoping for a shot at the NFL, even if it’s via free agency, but because of that little guy he wants to provide for.
“That’s like three-fourths of my motivation,” Carter said. “A lot of stuff that I do, I think of him — being able to provide him with the things he’s going to want when he grows up. Things I didn’t really have when I was younger. Just be a great role model for him, be that good father figure for him and give him everything that he wants.”
For the time being, what Jr. wants most is his dad.
“He mocks what I say,” Carter said. “He tries to be funny. He wants me to give him a lot of attention.”
Carter’s three-fourths estimation raised the question about the other one-fourth. That 25 percent is family, too.
“All the things that we’ve been through,” said Carter, who grew up in South Dade and attended Miami-Southridge High. “What we come from. My grandma, my mom, my brothers, my sisters, my uncles, my aunties, cousins — all that.”
Carter didn’t want to elaborate on those hardships, instead summing it up by saying, “a lot of deep stuff.”
He doesn’t take his college football career lightly. Looking forward to the regular-season finale, he said, “I’m going to miss playing with the young bucks, the freshmen, leading this team, playing with my guys that I came in with. Just going to make the best of it this whole week.”
You get the sense there’s a part of him that laments arriving in Coral Gables a bit too early.
“Next year is going to be crazy,” he said, optimism fueled by the arrival of first-year coach Mark Richt, a former Hurricanes quarterback and ex-Georgia coach. In fact, when asked to cite his career highlight, Carter paused for several moments, then pointed to his coaches.
“Probably when Coach Richt came,” he said. “When our old coaching staff got fired and just the transition over to a new coaching staff, meeting new coaches, learning new defensive schemes.”
Carter, who is 6-feet-1 and 215 pounds, has a career-high 66 total tackles this season and has been especially active the past few weeks, making nine tackles against Virginia and 10 against North Carolina State. He hopes his final eight quarters of college football are equally active.
“It was fun,” he said of his time at UM. “A lot of good times, a lot of hard times, a lot of bad times. It was all in one. It was a great four years, though.”