RICHMOND — Eastern Kentucky defensive tackle David Carter is more than a 6-foot-2, 300-pound tackling machine.
In the words of Coach Dean Hood, "David Carter is an absolute beautiful human being."
While most of his EKU teammates balance football and academics, the fifth-year senior carries the responsibility of being a parent to a 3-year-old daughter, Takiyah.
"If we've got a 6 o'clock meeting, he's here at the 6 o'clock meeting with Kiyah on his lap and she's got her little Smurf sippy cup or whatever she's got and eating some Cheerios," Hood said. "And he's listening to the meeting and taking notes and watching film.
"Then he'll take Kiyah to daycare and then he'll go to his classes, and then he'll come back for his afternoon practice. Then practice is over, the other guys may be going to the movies or going to whatever, and he's picking up his daughter and being a dad. He's a special, special kid."
One who beat the odds to get to where he is at age 22.
In foster care at 6, he was adopted by the first family with whom he was placed.
"Everything was good up until I got adopted and then things kind of changed, I guess, because they consider you as one of your own," said Carter, who is black. "So things changed, got treated a little different. It was a white foster home. Not saying that there was any racist things, but you can tell certain ways, how they treated their other kids there."
Carter went back into the system and took some lumps.
"Different placements. Got in a little trouble and things like that," he said. "I had to go to a place called Boys Haven for about a year and a half. Just a lot of little things like that."
Along the way, though, Carter found football.
"My last year in youth league, they said they needed some big guys to play defensive line. ... The first day I almost quit because the running was tough. It was different," he said. "Then everyone said, 'You might be able to play some high school ball.' Then it was, 'You might be able to play college ball.'"
He credits Kenneth Talley, then the defensive line coach at Fairdale High School in Louisville, for helping him on the field, and for helping him wind his way through the court system. After his time at Boys Haven, Carter lived in an apartment as part of the state's independent living program. He didn't stray again.
"I guess when I got into trouble, it put something in me that scared me to want to do different," Carter said. "I was given an opportunity to play ball. I never even thought that I would be playing high school ball, let alone college. I was given an opportunity, so I just ran with it."
A third-year starter, Carter has played in all 34 games during his career.
As a redshirt freshman reserve, he made at least one tackle in 10 of 11 games.
In 2011, he started at defensive tackle in 10 of 12 games, notching at least two tackles in seven games.
Last year, with 10 starts in 11 games, Carter finished fourth on the team with five tackles-for-loss. He had at least two tackles in 10 games.
"I think I play the run the best," he said. "I'm still working on pass rush; that's always something that you've got work on. But my biggest thing right now is stopping the run."
That, and playing for his daughter.
"She's what I do this for," Carter said. "It took a lot of (custody) fight to get her. She's down here staying with me. That's my heart."
No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown
9 Kyle Romano 5-11 181 Fr. Bedford, Texas
12 Jared McClain 6-0 189 Jr. Hiram, Ga.
14 Zain Gilmore 5-10 187 Fr. Tampa, Fla.
15 Barton Mann 6-4 200 Fr. Russell Springs
2 Jared Sanders 5-7 157 So. Hallandale, Fla.
3 Thomas Owens 5-10 214 Fr. Cincinnati
7 Zavier Foster 5-11 204 Sr. Carrollton, Ga.
20 JJ Jude 5-9 181 Fr. Hagerhill
21 Caleb Watkins 6-0 226 Jr. Corbin
22 Kentavyvus Hopkins
5-11 185 Fr. Paris
23 David Emmanuel 5-9 180 Fr Dade City, Fla.
28 Jeremy James 5-11 227 Jr. Bowling Green
39 ShaQuille Prather 6-2 224 So. Cincinnati
41 Roman Lawson 6-0 235 Sr. Shaker Heights, Ohio
42 Dan Shepherd 6-0 223 Jr. Cincinnati
Bo Brooks 5-8 197 Fr. Lexington
Braily Blair 5-10 220 Fr. Zanesville, Ohio
Seth Hunt 6-1 267 Fr. Nicholasville
6 Joel Brown 6-1 174 So. Inglewood, Calif.
10 Ben De La Cruz 6-0 203 Sr. Deltona, Fla.
11 Ike Ariguzo 6-5 214 Sr. Columbus, Ohio
16Deno Montgomery5-10 180 So. Chattanooga
17Jaucady Rutledge5-10 175 So. Lakeland, Fla.
18 Jeff Glover 6-4 190 So. Atlanta
38 Nathan Rawe 5-7 170 Sr. Newport
80 Ja'Tyuan Landing 5-10 178 Jr. Clearwater, Fla.
83 Seth Dotson 5-11 176 So. Mt. Sterling
84 Tranard Chester 6-4 180 Fr. Lexington
88 Devin Borders 6-5 196 Fr. Fort Walton, Fla.
J.V. Hooker 6-2 177 So. Manchester
Taylor Miller 5-11 180 So. Burlington
Jalen Rose 5-11 180 Fr. Louisville
36 Tyler Malone 6-5 240 Fr. Indianapolis
82 Matt Lengel 6-7 264 Sr. Mechanicsburg, Pa.
86 Nathan Watts 6-4 242 Sr. Bristow, Va.
87 Caleb Hodgson 6-5 230 So. Louisville
92 Sheldon Fleming 6-3 240 Fr. Lehigh Acres, Fla.
Jon Floyd 6-3 238 Fr. Richmond
Hayden Kiser 6-2 213 So. Louisa
50 Justin Meredith 6-2 290 Sr. Bowling Green
57 Colton Scurry 6-2 276 Fr. Fayetteville, Ga.
60 Chris Willis 6-3 270 So. Centerville, Ohio
61 Landon Rasnick 6-4 250 Fr. Orange, Va.
62 Ryan Garretson 6-4 325 Fr. Russellville, Tenn.
67 Austin Jaggers 6-2 282 Sr. Louisville
68 Trey Shelton 6-3 285 So. Chester, Va.
71 Josh Minor 6-4 260 So. Atlanta
72 Mo Vogel 6-2 306 Jr. Howard Beach, N.Y.
73 Damien Campbell 6-2 290 So. Lexington
74 Dustin Crane 6-3 270 Jr. Lebanon
75 Brett Eycksmans 6-4 288 So. Villa Hills
77 Jason Creeden 6-3 275 Fr. Broad Run, Va.
78 Travon Carter 6-1 310 Sr. Dallas
Dylan Slone 6-3 258 So. Waynesburg
40 Ryan Bonner 6-3 245 Sr. Ashland
59 Elijah Jones 6-4 280 Fr. Versailles
64 Julio Geronimo 6-2 310 Sr. East Orange, N.J.
70 Bryce Krebs 6-1 286 So. Greenwood, Ind.
81 Shawn Shupperd 6-5 257 Sr. Brownsburg, Ind.
90 Anthony Shoemaker
6-3 258 Sr. Cincinnati
91 Floyd Coffey 6-2 213 So. Charleston, Miss.
93 Denzeil Byars 6-3 260 Fr. Atlanta
94 Caleb Coulliette 6-1 264 Jr. Wilmore
95 Armond Jones 6-3 255 Fr. Indianapolis
96 David Carter 6-3 293 Sr. Louisville
97 Avery Pitt 6-3 273 Fr. Henderson
98 Daryl Taylor 6-4 238 Fr. Greenville, N.C.
99 Justin Adekoya 6-5 280 Fr. Ringgold, Ga.
Travis Burns 6-1 234 So. London
Keith Thielemann 6-0 284 Fr. Parksville
6-1 327 Jr. Atlanta
4 Anthony Brown 6-0 220 Sr. Cincinnati
43 Ichiro Vance 6-1 235 Sr. LaGrange
44 Everett Talbert 5-11 206 Fr. Lexington
45 Tyrelle Johnson 6-0 218 Jr. Lexington
47 Chris Kelly 5-10 219 So. Cold Spring
48 Khiry Maddox 6-1 220 Jr. Owensboro
49 LaJuan Smith 6-2 205 Fr. Glasgow
51 Marquise Piton 6-1 209 So. Pembroke Pines, Fla.
52 Domonick Brown 6-2 235 Fr. Elizabethtown
53 Jeffrey Canady 601 220 Fr. Barbourville
58 Tyler Horn 6-3 228 Sr. Harrodsburg
Trevor Barnes 6-0 210 Sr. Bradenton, Fla.
Drexler Blue 5-11 202 Jr. Galesburg, Ill.
5 Paul Ritter 5-10 200 So. Burlington
8 Johnny Joseph 5-8 171 So. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
13 Kiante Northington
5-9 155 Fr. Louisville
24 Trey Thomas 5-11 212 So. Huber Heights, Ohio
25 Chris Owens 6-1 204 Jr. Augusta, Ga.
26 Vincent Green 5-10 174 Fr. Cape Coral, Fla.
27 Stanley Absanon 5-11 173 So. Auburndale, Fla.
29 Theron Norman 6-2 193 Sr. Richmond, Va.
30 Blake Atzinger 6-0 200 Jr. Louisville
31Christian Albertson6-0 210 Sr. Morrow, Ohio
33 Jason Fergerson 6-3 190 Fr. Lexington
34 Brandon Stanley 6-1 201 Jr. Atlanta
46 Taylor Speaks 6-0 205 So. Somerset
69 Dana DePassio So. Grove City, Ohio
Anthony George 6-0 238 So. Richmond
37 Jordan Berry 6-5 205 Sr. Australia
19 Luke Pray 5-7 150 Sr. Winfield, Kan.
63 Preston Slemp 5-8 193 Fr. Cartersville, Ga.
76 Lucas Williams 6-0 187 Fr. Russell Springs
89 Andrew Lloyd 5-11 190 Jr. Winchester, Va.
6-0 214 So. Pikeville
James Grigsby 6-0 210 Fr. Las Vegas
Date Opponent Time
Aug. 29 ROBERT MORRIS 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 at Louisville Noon
Sept. 14 COASTAL CAROLINA 6 p.m.
Sept. 21 at Morehead State 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 at Eastern Illinois 2:30 p.m.
Oct. 5 AUSTIN PEAY 6 p.m.
Oct. 19 TENNESSEE TECH 3 p.m.
Oct. 26 at Southeast Missouri 2 p.m.
Nov. 2 TENNESSEE STATE 1 p.m.
Nov. 9 at Jacksonville State 4 p.m.
Nov. 16 TENNESSEE-MARTIN 1 p.m.
Nov. 23 at Murray State 1 p.m.
Players to watch
QB Jared McClain: Backing up T.J. Pryor last season, he threw for 460 yards and three scores with three starts as a sophomore. Hood says he's "been really pleased with his pocket presence, keeping his eyes downfield. ... He does a great job of knowing when to pull it down and run."
TE Matt Lengel: After suffering a season-ending injury in last season's opener at Purdue, the 6-7, 265-pounder returns. "We're a big tight end-oriented offense," Hood said. "He's back and catching the ball better. He's a big target."
LB Ichiro Vance: The two-time all-OVC pick is "in there making 1,000 tackles, it seems like forever," Hood said. "It seems like Ichiro's about 40 years old." For the record, Vance made 56 tackles last season.
LB Anthony Brown: Also a two-time all-OVC pick, Brown totaled a team-best 12.5 tackles-for-loss last season. He played two seasons at end before moving to linebacker as a junior.
SS Brandon Stanley: He led the team with 81 tackles last season, earning second-team all-OVC honors. "He's a very physical player," Hood said. "Really grew up in the last year as far as understanding the defense."
Coach: Dean Hood (34-23 in five seasons at EKU)
Last season: 8-3 overall; 6-2 and tied for second place in Ohio Valley Conference
Returning starters: 13 (five offense, six defense, two special teams)
Outlook: Trench warfare looks to be the strength of a team that is No. 19 in the pre-season FCS coaches' poll. The Colonels return starters or significant contributors to their front seven on defense, along with the interior of the offensive line. Shawn Shupperd and David Carter anchor the D-line. Anthony Brown and Ichiro Vance spearhead a strong linebacker group. Last year, EKU ranked second nationally in turnover margin (+1.73 per game), ninth in rushing defense (108.18 yards per game allowed) and 32nd nationally in total defense (21.73 points per game allowed). On offense, guards Travon Carter and Justin Meredith return, backed by three-year starting fullback Jeremy James. Center is a competition between returning starter Austin Jaggers and Dustin Crane, who played nine games as a reserve lineman last year.
Question marks: EKU lost three of four starters in the defensive backfield, along with a pair of All-American tackles on the offensive side. Add to that the graduation of QB T.J. Pryor, RB Matt Denham and WRs Tyrone Goard and Cam Bailey. "Probably 90 percent of our offense," Hood said. "But that being said, we feel like we have some guys that were waiting in the wings and some guys that we had redshirted that are ultra-talented." That group includes: QB Jared McClain; RBs Caleb Watkins, J.J. Jude, Jared Sanders and Thomas Owens; and WRs Devin Borders, Jaucady Rutledge, Jeff Glover and Ike Ariguzo.
Game of the Year: Eastern Illinois is the defending OVC champion and edged EKU as this year's pre-season favorite. The Panthers spoiled EKU's title bid last year with a late-season 24-7 victory at Richmond. The teams will meet at Eastern Illinois this year, in an OVC opener Sept. 28.
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.