After signing with Tennessee during the fall of 2012 during what turned out to be a redshirt season at Walters State for Tommy John surgery, Carter’s short and winding road has now led to Tuscaloosa.
Carter, a right-handed pitcher that was also drafted by the Texas Rangers last month, was admitted to Alabama on Wednesday and registered for two summer classes on Thursday.
The Science Hill graduate caught the Crimson Tide’s eye during a throwing session for the Miami Marlins in Atlanta prior to the MLB draft. Before he knew it, his 95 mph fastball had him on a fast track to tour Tuscaloosa.
“It was the day before they were leaving for the (NCAA) regionals,” Carter said. “They had practice. I got to watch it.
“The campus is beautiful. It’s a big campus, but all the classes and baseball field and the weight room and all that — it’s all close around. The weight room is one of the nicest I’ve seen. And it’s in the SEC, one of the best conferences. And I just really want a chance to make it to the College World Series next year. I think that’d be an awesome experience.”
Coming off surgery, Carter pitched sparingly this past season in what was his only active season at Walters State. Prior to his elbow injury, he pitched as a freshman at ETSU in 2012.
His velocity and changeup have improved dramatically toward the end of the season, according to Walters State coach David Shelton.
Carter said he hasn’t heard anything recently from the Texas Rangers, but doesn’t assume any sort of offer will materialize that could jeopardize his career at Alabama.
“Somebody told me we’re predicted to be in, like, the top eight next year and make it to Omaha — by Baseball America, I think,” Carter said.
Watching Vanderbilt and Virginia in a classic CWS got Carter’s juices going.
“That was a great series,” Carter said. “I actually played — me and Daniel (Norris) played with (Vanderbilt shortstop) Dansby Swanson for the East Cobb Yankees. He’s one of the best shortstops I’ve ever seen in my life. It was pretty cool seeing him on TV. I think (former Science Hill teammate) Will Craig played with him, too.”
Carter has been best friends with Toronto Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris most of his life. They played sports together beginning with youth soccer and Junior Toppers football and baseball.
And in the same week, Carter signed with Alabama and Norris was selected to Major League Baseball’s Futures All-Star game.
“We’ve been talking and stuff,” Carter said. “I didn’t really expect all this to happen, but I’m thankful it did.”
Norris all but brags about how Carter bounced back from elbow surgery.
“I’m very happy for Will,” Norris said. “Obviously, he’s my best friend. We’ve talked and I just said, ‘Man, who would have ever thought me and you growing up? We were just little kids playing ball, dreaming of playing Major League Baseball and we both have these opportunities where he just got drafted. ...
“It was just really cool to kind of take a moment and just feel that with him just because we’re both so proud of each other. He’s gone through that Tommy John surgery and worked hard to get back and I’m so happy for him.”
Carter will be the second Hilltopper in Tuscaloosa. Carter, an All-Region 1-AAA selection in basketball his senior season, will get to watch former Science Hill teammate Shannon Hale play basketball at Alabama. The 6-foot-8 Hale made the SEC All-Freshmen team this past season.
“We played basketball two years together at Science Hill,” Carter said. “I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet.”
Tennessee evidently became lukewarm on Carter after his elbow surgery and redshirt season, not that Carter’s indicated any hard feelings about the matter. But he sure never thought he’d be saying roll Tide.
“No, I never really thought that,” he said with a trace of a chuckle, “but I’m happy to be here.”