Carter, the Nittany Lions' second-leading receiver last season with 36 catches for 453 yards and two touchdowns, suffered a dislocation and torn ligaments in his right wrist in the third quarter of the Nov. 10 loss to Nebraska. He underwent surgery three days later, meaning he missed the last two games of the season, and was in a cast for “nine or 10 weeks.”
He said doctors first told him he “wasn't going to be able to do spring ball at all,” including non-contact stuff. But that has not been the case, as he has taken part in one-on-one and seven-on-seven drills.
“I'll definitely be able to be back by the beginning of the season,” he said in a conference call with reporters. “If I had to play a game now, I could.”
He said he had never before suffered an injury that forced him to miss games, and that he was in “like, a depressed state” watching his teammates play. He also said his coaches and teammates -- especially his roommates, defensive back Adrian Amos, running back Bill Belton and wide receiver Allen Robinson (part of the “Supa 6”) -- helped him through that difficult time. So too did his mom.
“She told (his roommates) to make sure I stayed positive,” he said, “and that they watched me.”
There have been positive developments along the way. Strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald fashioned a strap for Carter's right hand so that he could continue doing weight work. “Lifting-wise,” Carter said, “I'm doing everything the team's doing.” And Carter, who at first was catching balls only with his left hand, was able to catch with both “probably two months ago.”
“That was one thing I was worried about -- that it would affect my catching and blocking and everything,” he said. “It definitely hasn't.”
There were other little signs of progress, as when he was able to start playing video games again. Sitting and watching his roommates do that also drove him a little crazy, he said.
“When I got into a smaller cast,” he said, “I was definitely excited to get back on the sticks.”
He has spent part of spring practice mentoring young tight ends Adam Breneman and Brent Wilkerson, two guys he described as “versatile players who'll be able to see the field.” Willkerson, who will be a redshirt freshman in the fall, has “definitely improved a lot” and is “definitely going to get a lot of time on the field,” according to Carter. And Breneman, the ballyhooed freshman, is “definitely a guy that could help us.”
Certainly the tight ends will again be a big part of the Nittany Lions' offense -- bigger than ever, Carter said.
“They're definitely expanding (the offense) for us,” he said. “They're getting more of us on the field, and getting us in different positions. I'm excited for this year, and what we can all do.”
He was evasive when asked about the top two quarterbacks at present, Steven Bench and Tyler Ferguson, saying he wasn't going to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. All he said was, “They're both taking control of the huddle, both getting us into the right formations and both improving.”
Carter was more definitive when asked about the prospect of further player transfers, which is still a possibility under the NCAA sanctions handed down last summer.
“That's not been an issue at all,” he said. “After last year, after the Wisconsin game, we definitely all bought into the system. … I don't foresee anybody leaving.”
He does, however, foresee himself coming back, good as new.