MCGILL: Cody Carter Leaves Legacy of Toughness
The Word on the Herd -- Nov. 26, 2016
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Cody Carter is a football player who has the unique ability to understand two things: what he is, and that there isn’t a limit to what he could be.
The senior Marshall football player, who will conclude his career Saturday at 7 p.m. when WKU visits Joan C. Edwards Stadium, hasn’t hesitated to put his small stature up against big odds. It is why the 5-foot-10, 176-pound special teams dynamo transferred up a division – from Division II to FBS – after one season in order to test his skills at the highest level. It is why he will not flinch when his collegiate eligibility expires Saturday, and he’ll prepare himself for the next step up the football ladder.
“Going to the NFL is a one in a million chance,” Carter said. “You look at me and maybe it’s a one in two million chance.”
But why doubt Carter, who has starred for the Thundering Herd for three seasons on special teams? In 2014, in a home game against Rice, Carter was leveled on a kickoff and couldn’t immediately pick himself off the turf.
“(The opposing player) got called for targeting,” Carter said. “He came out of nowhere. I was running down on a kickoff and he laid me out. It was the first half … I played the rest of the game, and then I sat in a hospital for 26 hours on IVs. I came back and played the rest of the season.”
In 2015, in a home game against FIU, Carter injured his left knee on the opening kickoff but wanted to push through the pain. Later that quarter, he was on the punt return unit which helped spring Deandre Reaves for a 69-yard punt return touchdown. After the game, Carter realized he had a broken left kneecap.
“I want to be out there no matter what – that’s my mentality,” Carter said. “I don’t want to let my teammates down, I don’t want to let my family down, I don’t want to let all the fans down who know me around this area and look up to me and come to see me play. I go out there and I push through whatever.
“It’s not going to kill me. It’s just a little pain.”
As a senior at Cabell Midland High School, Carter was a Class AAA all-state first team selection as a utility player. He rushed for 1,213 yards and scored 20 touchdowns on offense, and intercepted five passes as a defensive back. He didn’t have a stack of letters from college football programs or a pile of scholarship offers. He played one season at the University of Charleston.
“Everybody’s dream as a kid is to play Division I,” Carter said. “Coming out of high school I only had one D-II offer and (UC) was it. I didn’t get offered to walk-on anywhere, either.”
“In my mind I wanted to play Division I football because I believed I could play at that level,” Carter added. “A lot of people didn’t think I could. They kind of laughed at me to my face.”
Carter first impressed the Marshall coaching staff as a scout team running back. That gave the coaches an idea.
“We made the decision to move him to defense because we thought he could have a tremendous impact on special teams and it would make him a better tackler,” Fuller said. “We understood what his role was going to be but we didn’t know how good of a player he was going to be. It doesn’t matter if it has been covering kicks, trying to block kicks or trying to block people, he’s really done a tremendous job because he’s 100 miles per hour all of the time. He’s got legitimate speed and quickness and an immeasurable amount of toughness.”
Carter has been the star of Marshall’s special teams. He has worn three different jersey numbers this season – 4, 12 and 88 – as to not create a conflict with other players on his special teams unit, sometimes switching between the uniforms mid-game.
He relishes the moment to run out there and make a play.
“I’ve understood that is my whole role,” Carter said. “That’s my life and that’s all I have to do and I’m going to perfect it. I’m going to do it to the best of my ability and give 100 percent every single play. I only get to go out there for one play and hopefully it can change the complexion of the game, whether it’s a big hit or a big block.”
Carter has done that plenty of times during his time with the Herd. It is his legacy.
“He’s a guy who has earned his way the hard way,” MU head coach Doc Holliday said. “He’s a tough guy who loves the game. The attitude he brings every day is priceless.”