Lorenzo Carter was headed to LSU for football until he had a change of heart on last February’s signing day.
Carter, the 5-star defensive end from Norcross High School who is rated as the state’s No. 1 overall prospect, ended up signing with UGA over LSU, Florida and Florida State.
But it was much closer recruiting battle than everybody thought nearly three months ago.
“That was my biggest secret — how much I liked LSU,” Carter said. “I never really told people that, that LSU was leading. LSU led all the way up until signing day. And people at my school were saying ‘You’re going to Florida. You are going to Florida.’ I was like ‘OK, whatever.’ But that was fun.”
It took a last-minute pep talk from family members to switch Carter from LSU to UGA.
“I had some long conversations with my sister and my parents,” Carter said. “They helped me realize how big it would be if I stayed home and played at Georgia. I think LSU did a great job. Georgia just edged them out at the end. The in-state school just took over.”
Since committing to UGA in front of ESPN’s cameras, Carter said rarely a day has gone by where he hasn’t been recognized or congratulated by Bulldogs fans.
“Everywhere I go, I get a ‘Go Dawgs’ — and I mean everywhere I go,” he said. “People know me and recognize me all across the state. I feel embraced. I feel at home.”
The 6-foot-6 Carter has gained around 10 pounds of muscle and weighs around 241 pounds. He reports to UGA for summer classes on June 2, and is expected to compete for playing time behind outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins.
Here’s the rest of the Q&A with Lorenzo Carter:
Have you missed being out of the recruiting spotlight since February? “I love it. I get on Twitter like every blue moon. I look at all the stuff about recruiting, and I’m like ‘Yes, I’m so glad that I’m all done.’ It’s just fun being signed. I’m just recruiting now for Georgia, so I’m at work.”
What is the most creative thing a college did to get your attention? “I would have to say when UGA drew a picture of me. That was pretty cool. I liked that a lot. They did (the portraits) for me and Raekwon McMillan. We didn’t get Raekwon but still it was good.”
How would you rate the quality and accuracy of your UGA portrait? “I looked good in (the portrait), compared to how I look in real life. Raekwon’s picture didn’t look good. It was ugly. He didn’t like it. That’s probably why he didn’t come to UGA (and signed with Ohio State).”
What was the biggest recruiting rumor about you that wasn’t true? “That Bama was my leader at one point. They didn’t really lead. Especially toward the end, it was going to be LSU or Georgia.”
What happened between you and Alabama? That relationship seemed to fade away after Alabama got a commitment from another 5-star defensive end, Da’Shawn Hand of Woodbridge, Va. “I don’t know. Da’Shawn is a great player and he’s going there. They got him instead of me. I was like ‘OK, that’s cool. I will just go to Georgia.’”
What’s your funniest story from recruiting? “Probably Les Miles talking about girls. Girl talk with Les Miles was kind of awkward because you don’t think of him as a ladies man. But he seems like he knows what he’s talking about.
What girl advice did Les Miles give you? “’Don’t be rude when they call late at night.’ So I was like ‘OK, I won’t be rude. I just won’t pick up the phone.’”
Any other funny stories involving Les Miles? “We were about to go play a basketball game, and he called while my coach was giving a pre-game talk. I looked at my coach and said ‘Coach, it’s Les.’ My coach just gave me a dirty look. So I called (Miles) back after the game.”
What’s your biggest regret from recruiting? “I really don’t regret anything. I feel like I did a great job of taking it slow. If I had to do it again, I probably wouldn’t take all (four) official visits. They were so tiring. Official visits are tiring.”
Which college was the hardest to tell “no” to? “Probably (Florida State defensive coordinator Charles Kelly) because of the relationship we built. I hate telling people ‘no.’ My high school coach knows that I’m too nice, so he had to let them know.”
Which college disappointed you the most? “Notre Dame was pretty good. I liked them. The assistant coach stayed on me, but I never really got a chance to connect to the head coach (Brian Kelly). Or really (Jimbo Fisher) from Florida State. But if I had built a good relationship with Coach Kelly, I would’ve considered Notre Dame more because it’s a great school for engineering and that’s what I want to major in.”
How much negative recruiting was there between your final four schools? “Not a lot. Every once in a while, you hear something negative that might rub you the wrong way. But, for the most part, the schools I talked to, they spoke positively about each other.”
What recruiting advice would you give to high school juniors? “Just don’t believe the hype. There is hype with every school. You have to do research and find out everything on yourself.”
If you were in charge of the NCAA, what’s one rule change you’d make to improve recruiting? “Flying parents. We had to drive to LSU, and that was dreadful the whole drive. I mean, if we could’ve have flown, that would’ve been perfect. But we had to drive because my parents couldn’t afford to fly and I wanted them with me on my visits to help me with one of the biggest decisions of my life. Just flying would make it so much easier on everyone.”
What expectations do UGA’s coaches have for you this season? “They tell me I need to be ready to play. I need to get into shape. I think that’s a big problem up there right now, trying to get the players in shape so they can play fast for a long period of time. That’s what they let me know: That I’ve got to be ready to play fast.”
Do you have any messages for UGA’s fans? “Thanks for your support. I love Georgia. I can’t wait to go up there and do big things. I’ve got to try to bring a national championship to Georgia. That’s the goal. And that’s going to happen.”
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