Undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver DeAndre Carter will have to beat the odds to crack the Baltimore Ravens roster but going against the odds is nothing new for the former Sacramento State University wide receiver. Carter has a motivation that is different from many other people. He doesn’t only play the game for himself.
DeAndre Carter lost his brother Kylan during his junior season in 2013. The cause of death was cardiac arrest. DeAndre used this tragic incident to motivate him to pursue a professional career in the NFL. Like most young men, DeAndre and Kylan dreamed of playing pro football. DeAndre made a promise to his brother before he passed away. That promise was to fulfill both of their dreams of playing in the NFL.
The two brothers had a close relationship. They considered themselves to be best friends. The two shared a love for football. DeAndre has played football since he was ten years old and the the sport that he has played for so long serves as a form of therapy for him as he tried to work through the tragic loss of his brother.
“My little brother passed away. It pushes me every day to go out and play.” Carter said. “Whenever I get tired, I just think about him and how he never got this opportunity. If I walk off the field and I feel like I’ve honored him than it was a successful day. I try to make him proud every day.”
Football has also been a way for him to pay tribute to his brother. Carter points to the sky after every touchdown that he scores. He also dedicates every game to his brother.
Making it to the NFL “by any means necessary” was something that DeAndre promised to his brother.
DeAndre is considered undersized for his position. He is 5 feet 8 and 185 pounds but he is athletic. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds and had a 38 1/2-inch vertical leap. He showed how explosive he can be when he posted a 10’- 6” broad jump and his strength was on display when he bench pressed 225 pounds 16 times at his Pro Day.
The young receiver has already caught the attention of the Ravens head coach.
“DeAndre’s done a good job,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s done a really nice job as a receiver and he’s looked good as a punt returner. He’s had some experience with that in college, so that’s a plus.”
Steve Smith Sr. has also taken note of how well Carter has played. Smith Sr. said on his radio show on SiriusXMNFL that he felt Carter would be the undrafted rookie free agent that made the Ravens roster.
When asked about Carter during Ravens OTAs, Smith had high praise for the player whose ability resembles his own.
“I like [that] he’s hungry. I’m biased— he’s a West Coast guy.” Smith Sr. said. “I just love his attitude. I see a young Randall Cobb in him, but I think he can play inside or outside. I’m excited to watch him play.”
Carter looks up to Steve Smith Sr. He shared some of his similarities with the veteran receiver, “It starts with non-football related stuff. We both have a chip on our shoulders and we both are hungry. I am sure growing up just like I have, people told him that he wasn’t going to make it either. We have a similar mindset; we are hungry and just want to make plays.”
The young receiver comes to the Ravens after being an All-Big Sky
Conference selection. He finished his career with 207 catches for 2,760 yards and 35 touchdowns. He was a first-team All-American at Sacramento State, leading all Football Championship Subdivision schools with 99 catches for 1,321 yards and 17 touchdowns last season.
DeAndre is also a candidate to return punts. He has been given the opportunity to return punts in practice. As a senior, he returned a punt for a touchdown last season and averaged 23.7 yards on kickoff returns for his career along with 12.5 yards per punt return.
“Coach Bobby Engram has been working with us and helping us get better every day. I am trying to learn as much as I can from him and from Steve [Smith Sr.]. They have a lot of time in and they have taught us the little things such as technique that we can use day in and day out to become a better receiver,” DeAndre said.
The results have already started to show. Carter made a number of catches at mini-camp this week. He closed out the team period with two consecutive touchdown catches in the corner of the end zone. With that kind of play, a roster spot is surely possible for the young receiver— against all odds!