Sunday, Jan. 25, 2004
Xavier Carter decides: it's LSU
PALM BAY, Fla. – And the winner of the Xavier Carter sweepstakes is . . .
The Palm Bay High All-American wide receiver told Florida Today this afternoon he will sign with Nick Saban's BCS national champion Tigers on Feb. 4. Carter chose the Tigers over Florida, breaking the Palm Bay pipeline to Gainesville.
"I just feel like LSU's offense fits me because they pass the ball down the field," Carter said today from his Palm Bay home.
Before Carter came along, the Pirates had been a feeder program for Florida. The late James McGriff, starting center Mike Degory, freshman fullback Joe Cohen and All-Space Coast Player of the Year Reggie Nelson have all signed with the Gators in the last six years.
A USA Today and Parade Magazine All-American, Carter is ranked as the 22nd-best senior prospect in the country by Rivals.com. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound state sprint champion is Rivals' fifth-rated wide receiver.
He was recruited by college football programs from coast to coast and took visits to Miami, Florida State, Florida and LSU before narrowing his final choices to the Tigers and Gators.
Carter's family ties run deep in Louisiana. His mother, Michele, grew up in the Baton Rouge, La., area. Her two sisters and mother live in Baton Rouge. His father, Ken, played college football at Southern University, which is also located in Baton Rouge.
As a senior, Carter had 33 receptions for 618 yards and nine touchdowns in 2003 for the Pirates, who were upset by Winter Springs in the opening round of the state playoffs. In the spring, the All-American sprinter will try to defend his state championships in the 100, 200 and 400 meters at the FHSAA track and field finals.
"He has all the skills and all the ability in the world – and he has that gear of speed coaches love," said Bobby Burton, a recruiting analyst for Rivals.com.
"He has great size and is strong," added Jamie Newburg of TheInsiders.com. "His hands are better than advertised, he's determined and he hustles. He does have much to learn about the position, but so do all the kids. The sky's the limit for him as a football player."
Carter is the seventh Space Coast prospect to commit to a college football program this recruiting season.
– Melbourne running back Mike Hamilton, Florida Today's All-Space Coast Offensive Player of the Year, to Oklahoma State
– Melbourne defensive end Zack Slate to East Carolina
– Merritt Island quarterback Danny Verpaele to South Florida
– Merritt Island defensive end Mike Mangold to Virginia Tech
– Holy Trinity linebacker Misha Cvetkovic to Princeton
– Satellite offensive tackle Rickey Howell to Charleston Southern
The week-long national signing period for college football begins on Feb. 4.
— By Barbara Caywood, FLORIDA TODAY