Carter Captains Deep Defensive Line

Posted: August 25, 2014 at 7:39 a.m.

Fayetteville High School defensive lineman Damani Carter during practice Monday August 4, 2014 at Harmon Field in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — The names C.J. O’Grady and Dre Greenlaw often get tossed out as the big-time recruits and star players to watch at Fayetteville this season. But if you forget to add Damani Carter to that list of first-mention Bulldogs, chances are you’re making a mistake.

Carter, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound senior, has made plenty of noise around the Fayetteville program since he first arrived as a sophomore. But with so many other heralded stars around him, the soft spoken Carter has often gone overshadowed in his career.

Not anymore.

“Damani is a great football player, but he’s an even better person,” Fayetteville coach Daryl Patton said. “That’s why a school like Army is so interested in him.

Defensive Line

Biggest Strength: Damani Carter. … Three-year starter and team captain is the clear leader of the Fayetteville team this season. Has played both outside linebacker and defensive end his first two years, but will focus on the end position this year.

Biggest Question Mark: The right mix. … Carter is a sure lock to be there every game. Fayetteville must find the correct pieces to put with him. The depth is there, but the Bulldogs must place the right people in the right place by conference season.

“We expect a lot out of Damani and he expects a lot out of himself, and he’s our leader.”

Carter has shifted between defensive end and outside linebacker in his first two seasons, but will stick more to the defensive line this year as Fayetteville moves back to a 4-2-5 scheme. With Carter on the defensive front, the Bulldogs have one of the quickest and most experienced players in the 7A-West Conference leading a group filled with talent and depth.

“If you’re thin at linebacker, you better be deep on the defensive line,” Patton said. “And we feel good about our depth there.”

Carter accounted for 39 tackles, six tackles for loss, one sack and one pass breakup as a junior. With his full attention now on defensive end, the quarterbacks in the 7A-West best be aware.

“I like playing defensive end,” Carter said. “I like getting my hand in the dirt and using my speed.”

Fayetteville has many options at the other three defensive line positions. Seniors Taylor Beam (5-10, 240) and Harrison Schaefer (6-3, 290) figure in at defensive tackles. Cole Turnball (6-1, 230), a junior, will battle for a starting spot as well and junior Eli Hale (6-5, 220), nephew of former NFL player Ryan Hale, also figures in the mix.

Jon Willits (5-10, 230) is another senior who will get a look on the line, and sophomores Chris Humphrey (5-9, 270) and Akiel Byers (6-4, 240) could make immediate impacts.

“We’ve got some guys we feel good about at those positions,” Patton said. “There’s some different things we can do.”