The 90 Illini #67: Edwin Carter
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Two catches, two touchdowns. So far, Edwin Carter has the most impressive Illini career in history. EVERY TIME he caught the ball it was a touchdown.
Both of those touchdowns came in the Western Illinois game in 2018. On the second one, the safety went low, Carter jumped for the ball, and the safety's helmet went right into Carter's knee. It was eerily similar to Mikey Dudek's knee injury the week before, which, I'd like to note, is a direct result of safeties having to go low because the old "dislodge the ball" hits now result in targeting penalties meaning that the unfortunate side effect of "hit him as low as possible to avoid targeting" is a lot of knee injuries. Which isn't a bad thing - helmet to knee is a lot better than helmet to helmet in the grand scheme - but every time I see a safety duck down to go low I get nervous for every knee involved.
The scars on Carter's knee are pretty massive, so it must have been one heck of a surgery. He was declared healthy (and able to participate) last August at Training Camp, but did not practice much at camp nor did he play at all for the season. Wait, I'm getting to the bottom part before we get to the details. Hold that thought and we'll get to it later.
67. Edwin Carter
Uniform number: 80
Year in school: Redshirt Sophomore (3 years to play 3)
Height: 6'-3" -- Weight: 185 lbs.
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
High School: Sandalwood HS
Best offers: Middle Tennessee State, Mercer, Western Illinois
Tom Cruise rating: 1.5 Cruises
2019 statistics: Did not play.
OK, let's pick up where we left off. He's injured against WIU in September of 2018 (held onto the ball and still scored!). He rehabs, gets cleared by doctors to return to practice, but doesn't practice much (nor does he play at all). At the end of the season, when they finally release the injury list (yes I'll forever be bitter), he's listed with the "out for the season" players. Did he aggravate the injury or did he just need more time to rehab the September 2018 injury? We don't know (at least I don't think we know).
All we know is that he didn't play against Kent State, made his debut in the next game against WIU, caught two passes, both for touchdowns, and on the second one tore up his knee (but held on to the ball). He hasn't been seen during a game since. Missed the rest of 2018 and all of 2019.
I do remember noticing Carter during the Memorial Stadium scrimmage in 2018 (they did a scrimmage in the stadium the final day of training camp). In fact, I think I tweeted about him at the time? Let me go look it up.
It was this:
Offensive player in this category: WR Edwin Carter.— Robert Rosenthal (@ALionEye) August 18, 2018
So I think he really did have a chance to be in the rotation, especially after the two touchdowns. But the injury ended everything.
Really hard to say. Especially if the "out for the year" listed above (in 2019) was a second injury. It would be one thing if he didn't play because they had a solid rotation of six receivers and they were just letting a redshirt freshman take a long rehab to get to 100%. But by the Northwestern game they were down to three healthy wide receivers, which is when you'd maybe see a long-rehab player maybe start to get some snaps, but instead he was listed as "out for the year" on that injury report.
So now he joins the group of all of the injured receivers from last season looking to get back out onto the field this year. By the end of the year it was just Caleb Reams, Casey Washington, and Donny Navarro, and both Washington and Navarro now return with a leg up on everyone (as does Josh Imatorbhebhe), so now it's one big race to see who grabs the open spots.
To get specific, Carter is probably fighting for snaps behind Bhebhe. He's not a slot guy like Navarro or Trevon Sidney - he's more of a long-and-lanky G-Mo type. So I'd say it's Carter battling with Dalevon Campbell for "Bhebhe needs a breather" snaps.