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Miami Hurricanes 2020 Player Profile: Safety Amari Carter

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Amari Carter has been a considerable piece in the defensive backfield for the Hurricanes over the past few seasons. Can he serve as a veteran leader in Miami’s defensive unit this fall to take the program to the next level?

NCAA Football: Florida at Miami
Miami Hurricanes safety Amari Carter wearing the football program’s third edition of its prestigious turnover chain after forcing a turnover against in-state rival Florida at Camping World Stadium (Orlando, Fla.).
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Seven total tackles and his first career interception against in-state rival Florida Gators. A pair of solo tackles in a battle versus the Virginia Cavaliers’ No. 24 in a 17-9 slugfest. The 2019 season was clearly the best Miami Hurricanes football and their fan base has seen out of safety Amari Carter so far.

Carter’s successes on the gridiron may have never happened at Miami, however. The rising senior originally committed to The U in Jan. 2017 after being sold on the program by former head coach Mark Richt and current head coach Manny Diaz (former defensive coordinator) that previous fall. A native of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Carter also received numerous offers from other football programs, including Michigan, Auburn, Louisiana State, and a handful of ACC schools, as a three-star recruit.

The 6-foot-2-inch Carter made a solid impact upon his arrival in to the Hurricanes’ program in 2017. In his true freshman campaign, he totaled 26 sacks (21 solo), two sacks, and two tackles-for-loss while playing in all 13 games, including the Orange Bowl game against Wisconsin, recording one solo tackle. Carter’s future looked promising as a member of the Canes defensive backfield, being a student of the game and a heavy hitter.

His production the following season (similar to his team’s) dropped off, however. Despite playing all but one game in 2018, Carter tallied only 12 tackles (10 solo) and two tackle assists. Though it was the team’s second consecutive year of allowing just 21 points per game, it was still a year of disappointment for not only Carter from a progress-perspective but for the Hurricanes as a whole.

Having blown a 14-3 lead over Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl the prior year, Miami looked to take the next step against their familiar opponent in the Pinstripe Bowl but did just the opposite. Despite Carter’s efforts, Miami’s defensive performance was lackluster, giving up 35 points to a team ranked No. 62 nationally in scoring offense.

With both a new head coach in Manny Diaz and defensive coordinator Blake Baker joining the program in 2019, Carter and his defensive squad were primed for a clean slate. And they got just that, finishing 13th nationally in yards allowed per game and sixth in sacks. Starting in five games, Carter finished the season with 37 tackles (25 solo), one sack, and his first interception in his tenure with the Hurricanes.

Miami did not finish their rollercoaster season as some expected, however. A year of improvement for Carter was simply not enough to offset seeing safeties Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine depart for the NFL. Manny Diaz’s first season as head coach sputtered to an end in the Independence Bowl (Shreveport, La.) with a 14-0 loss to Louisiana Tech.

As a rising senior, it’s almost a now-or-never scenario for Amari Carter and the Miami Hurricanes given the historic nature of the program. Carter will be heavily relied upon to lead the Canes in the defensive backfield. After three up-and-down seasons, he should help the defensive unit maintain their fortified performance, being a veteran of Coach Diaz’s style of play. His fellow safeties in Bubba Bolden and former high school teammate Gurvan Hall Jr. will return, and should help the program raise the bar again this year on defense.

“Every challenge we have is on us,” Carter said. “I wouldn’t say anything is too much of a challenge because we challenge ourselves. Most of the time, whether we are doing good or not so good, it’s because of us. It’s all about how we approach the game.”

Should Carter and Miami’s defense continue to exhibit progress this fall, they could be looking at a very different outcome in terms of what bowl game they play in, assuming the team’s offense improves mightily. While the Canes have recently experienced their share of offensive woes, their defensive game is something that cannot afford to waver should they want to reappear in the Orange Bowl or a similar New Year’s Six bowl game come January.