Maybe the window of opportunity for a post like this has already passed. Maybe talking about it will simply elicit "duh" or "yeah we know that already."
Regardless, it needs to be said. TCU once again has a leader. Ever since the departure of Andy Dalton, the player leadership has been lacking. We heard and responded to Casey Pachall's cries that the team lacked leadership. We've cried it ourselves for the past few years. Now, those cries can start to die down, thanks to Sam Carter.
It takes a lot to be a leader of peers. It requires that you first hold yourself to a higher standard, ensuring that the example you are setting doesn't offset or combat the words you're speaking. That comes in many different forms. From long nights in the film room, early morning workouts, and, oh yes, going to class and making time to study are all key parts of setting a strong example. These are incredibly important things for a leader to do, However, those aren't things the average fan can see. So how do we determine, beyond that, that Carter has what it takes to be a leader?
Let's start with on-field performance.
Carter has been overshadowed by larger names for the majority of his career, namely Jason Verrett, Devonte Fields, Stansly Maponga and Elisha Olabode, but that hasn't stopped him from being one of the most productive guys on the field. In 2012, as a sophomore, he had four interceptions and 14 passes defended, both good for second on the team behind Verrett.
His junior year, Carter's stat line started to speak to just how versatile of a player he can be. Five interceptions, seven passes defended, 7.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, 49 total tackles and a forced fumble. Now, as the key member of a secondary that loses Verrett and Olabode, Carter's numbers are set to explode, which means they may actually catch up with his on-field responsibilities.
If you were paying attention last year, you may have noticed something. When Gary Patterson wanted an extra corner or safety on the field, he'd remove a linebacker, and he'd have Carter slide down into that LB position (Hawk can go into much more detail about the when and why). Essentially, Carter was responsible for knowing, intricately, two positions on the field. He was also tasked, some of the time, with relaying the plays from the sideline and ensuring his teammates were in the right spots. That role will also increase with the departure of Olabode.
As much as on the field talent and responsibility contributes to creating a leader, it's the intangibles, and off the field example that drives things home for the guys around you. As I mentioned earlier, it's hard for the average fan to see those things, but we can pick out a few things from the interview below, conducted at the Big 12 media days last week.
Throughout the interview Carter seemingly returns to two main ideals that have contributed to where he is today. First, no day is promised. That generates the second ideal, your work ethic and daily effort should always be maxed out. The fact that Carter has already received his degree shows that he takes those things seriously. The fact that Carter's numbers are what they are on the field reflects that as well.
The rest of the country is starting to notice Carter too, as he's on watch lists for the Jim Thorpe Award, Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, and the Lott IMPACT Trophy, given to the top defensive player in the country for his impact both on and off the field.
If it seems like Sam Carter is the perfect fit to be the next leader for this TCU team, that's because he is. We can only hope that his peers will take after his example and not after the lesser examples of those no longer with the team. Take care of your business in the classroom, take care of you business in the weight room and on the practice field, take care of business on game day, and you'll go far.
How far? Keep an eye on Sam to find out.