Cole Carter will be one of 13 Mississippi State players suiting up for the final time in the Belk Bowl.
Although the offensive tackle still has another year of eligibility remaining, Carter is set to graduate in May with a degree in kinesiology and want to move on to the next phase of his life.
“There’s always different roads you can take in life,” Carter said. “I’m not necessarily looking at is as closing a door, but opening a door. It’s a different opportunity and it’s kind of a path that I kind made by myself. It just seemed like the right one to take.”
Carter arrived in Starkville four years ago as a three-star prospect that had played tight end throughout his high school career at Caledonia. As a senior, he earned first team All-State honors hauling in four passes for 59 yards and touchdown for the Confederates while grading out at 88 percent with his blocking.
It was his blocking skills that the Bulldogs coveted during the recruiting process and planned to add weight to his 6-foot-6 frame.
“The length, athleticism and footwork help having been out there on the edge,” Carter said. “You’re used to playing in space with athletic guys out there on the edge that can throw anything at you.”
Carter has been a reserve at both left and right tackle during his career appearing in 34 games. He has continued to take reps in practice on both sides of the line.
“You really just have to turn the opposite switch in your head,” Carter said. “They are both equally important positions. It’s a simple switchover but you have to remember all the play calls and to do the opposite.”
Although Carter is not expected to start in his final game, he will be close behind offensive line coach John Hevesy ready to enter the game at a moment’s notice.
“You never know when someone’s shoe is going to break, a pad messes up or someone goes down,” Carter said. “You just have to keep your juice up on the sidelines and be ready to do your role whenever your number is called.”
The 299-pounder also factors into State’s plans on special teams. Carter is on both the punt and field goal units.
“Special teams are very important,” Carter said. “It’s always in our game plan to win in special teams. I’m the rocker on field goal and the shield on punt and that can always be the changing point in the game.”
With his career coming to a close, Carter does not leave with any regrets about choosing Mississippi State.
“I love it and wouldn’t change my decision or anything that I’ve done,” Carter said. “It’s been a great experience and I love the connections I’ve made with people that will last a lifetime.”