There’s no replacing D’Onta Foreman, but the Texas Longhorns running back corps received a significant addition towards finding future production when early enrollee running back Toneil Carter flipped from Georgia to Texas in December. Already on campus taking classes and going through workouts, Carter officially signed his National Letter of Intent with the Longhorns Wednesday morning.
A four-star talent, Carter enrolled at Texas as one of the nation’s premier freshman running backs and should immediately contend for reps, as his 10.6 100-meter speed likely makes him the fastest Texas’ backs considering redshirt sophomore Kirk Johnson’s previous injury history may prevent him from being the speedy option he once was. Additionally, following a season in which Foreman carried the ball a mind-boggling 323 times, largely aided by future lead back Chris Warren III going down with a season-ending knee injury versus Oklahoma State, Carter will provide an explosive option with considerably fewer miles on his tread than other rushers in his class.
To that end, here’s an example of just how underutilized Carter was at Houston’s Langham Creek compared to the five running backs ranked higher (Carter was No. 6 at the time and is now No. 9):
Dissimilar to the other coveted rushers in his class, Carter’s statistics are misleading on the surface. Three varsity seasons produced just 3,702 yards and 54 scores, while backs like Florida State’s Cam Akers, Alabama’s Najee Harris and Tennessee commit Ty Chandler rushed for 5,103, 7,948 and 6,158 yards in high school, respectively.
But Carter didn’t carry the ball 700 times like Akers, 838 times like Harris or 814 times as Chandler did. Rather, Carter rushed just 485 times for Langham Creek — 215 fewer carries than Akers, 353 fewer than Harris and 329 fewer than Chandler.
Of the five running backs ranked higher than Carter, only Georgia pledge D’Andre Swift had fewer career carries (414), and his 164 carries in 2016 still surpasses Carter’s senior effort of 154. More notably, Carter’s career yards per carry average of 7.6 ranks second behind only Harris, whom chewed up an average of 9.5 yards per carry.
From his fresh legs to his elite potential to the void he can immediately help fill as he’ll compete for third and possibly even second string reps as a true freshman, Houston’s ‘Footwork King’, Rischad Whitfield recently expanded on Carter’s skill set.
“He has a dog mentality and you add that on top of great technique, great fundamentals, great foot speed and his footwork and vision are A1, you’ve got a dynamic back,” Whitfield said of Carter. “That’s a huge, huge addition to The University of Texas. Georgia dropped the ball on that.”
Carter was initially set to join Kirby Smart’s roster in Athens, but when Nick Chubb and Sony Mitchel unexpectedly returned together, along with the addition of 2017s No. 4 running back D’Andre Swift, there was no room for Carter to enroll early as he initially planned.
Here’s another evaluation of what Carter brings to Austin from Burnt Orange Nation’s Wescott Eberts.
At just under 5’11 and 200 pounds, Carter is a speed back who can run away from defenders with good long speed and also runs with some power for a lighter back, though he doesn’t project as a player who will consistently move the pile at the next level.
During the 2014 season, Carter showed physicality on kickoff coverage and more ability to make cuts in the open field, in addition to the first-step quickness and long speed that makes everything else look so easy for him. Just as importantly, he showed more ability to get low and break some arm tackles near the line of scrimmage.
After watching Carter over multiple seasons, it becomes a little bit too easy to overlook just how athletic Carter plays in pads because he’s so smooth with his acceleration and subtle moves through the hole. It’s extremely difficult for overmatched high school opponents to even get their hands on him when he gets vertical.
Mostly a no-nonsense runner, he has solid vision and some make-you-miss ability, but the question is whether Carter can break tackles in college and gain yards beyond what the offensive line blocks for at the next level.
As a true freshman, Carter will compete for reps with sophomore Kyle Porter, Johnson and fellow freshman Daniel Young.
If what the Footwork King sees in Carter after three year’s of training him is accurate, the early enrollee may ultimately prove to be the best of the bunch.
“The University of Texas is getting one of the hardest working running backs that that school has ever seen,” Whitfield said. “He doesn’t get tired; he’s all about that work. They’re about to get a kid who wants to be great, wants to help Texas get to the national championship and a Big 12 Championship. You’ve got a kid who wants to be productive; every single time he gets the ball he wants to score. He’s a leader; he wants to be great.”
Currently on campus as an early enrollee, Carter ranks as the nation’s No. 158 player, the No. 9 running back and the No. 25 player in Texas, per 247Sports Composite. ESPN has Carter ranked as high as the No. 71 player in the country and the No. 7 running back.