Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2023

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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30 AUGUST 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY JACK SOBLE T h e n - R h o d e I s l a n d d e fe n s ive back Antonio Carter II had a few reasons to believe entering the transfer portal would be a risk. For one, Rhode Island head coach Jim Fleming did not support the idea. "They were trying to keep him there, trying to talk him out of it," Carter's father, Antonio, told Blue & Gold Il- lustrated. "No ill will or anything like that. … They weren't happy about it, but that's what the portal is for." Reached for comment, Fleming pro- vided a statement through a Rhode Is- land spokesperson. "He worked hard and took coaching, which allowed him to develop towards reaching his fullest potential as a football player, student and young man," Fleming said. "I am surprised, with the resources available to a university like Notre Dame, that they could not have recognized his talent as we did as a young player and that, instead, they would need to come to a top-level FCS school in the University of Rhode Island to fill their roster." It is worth noting that Rhode Island is 31-62 during Fleming's tenure. Second, Carter had very little interest from major schools out of Orlando (Fla.) Oak Ridge High. He didn't play corner- back until 11th grade, so he wasn't on anyone's radar. Boston College discov- ered him as a senior, but for some reason they thought he was still a junior. The Eagles didn't offer him in time. Carter, his parents Tiffany and An- tonio said, had some self-doubt when he contemplated entering the portal. But they convinced him it was worth the risk. "Dude, I watched you play," Antonio Carter told his son. "I know football. I played college football [at Glenville State]. I know what type of player you are." "I may not know as much, but I watch college football," Tiffany Carter said. "I just feel like Antonio can definitely play on this team. We go to games. We see how he plays, how he puts in the work." In choosing Notre Dame, Carter is taking another chance. But it's nothing he's not used to. CRACKING THE LINEUP Even Tiffany and Antonio Carter were surprised at the amount of inter- est Carter got. Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Iowa, Washington, Ole Miss, LSU and Florida offered him, among others, in addition to Notre Dame. They saw 60 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 10 passes broken up this past season. The 2021 campaign was similarly productive for Carter, with 52 tackles and 7 passes broken up. His tape, those schools eventually decided, in- dicated he was good enough to play for their programs. One play stands out. On Sept. 24 last year against Pitt, Carter dropped into zone coverage from his cornerback position. Panthers quarterback Kedon Slovis saw one of his top receivers, Ko- nata Mumpfield, running away from his middle-of-the-field defenders — but toward Carter. When Slovis' throw reached its tar- get, TV audiences could hear the sound of Carter separating the man from the ball. Smack. Incomplete. His college career wasn't the first time Carter had to prove himself on the field to earn an opportunity. When he transferred to Oak Ridge for his senior year of high school, his coaches weren't sure how much he would play. GOING FOR IT Safety Antonio Carter II is making the jump from Rhode Island to Notre Dame Carter picked Notre Dame over schools such as Florida, Iowa, LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Washington and Wisconsin. PHOTO COURTESY ANTONIO CARTER II

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