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April 29, 2011

Carter going to 'The Big D'

Former North Carolina linebacker Bruce Carter didn't have to wait very long Friday evening to hear his name called during the second round of the NFL Draft, as he was the eighth selection (No. 40 overall) by the Dallas Cowboys.

UNC head coach Butch Davis worked for six years for owner Jerry Jones when he was a position coach and defensive coordinator with the Cowboys.

Davis gave his positive feedback on the Havelock (N.C.) native to the hands-on Dallas owner, and now Carter can officially say he's part of 'America's Team.'

"It was great feeling to get that call from Jerry Jones," said Carter, who watched the draft at home in Havelock.

"My mom was so excited, people were screaming and I could barely hear him. He told me he was thrilled to pick me and excited about what I could bring to the team."

Not only an outstanding linebacker at North Carolina, Carter was an important player on special teams, blocking seven career kicks, including six punts.

Prior to his senior season, he was ranked No. 1 in ESPN.com's 2010 workout warrior list. He set the record for a UNC linebacker with a power clean of 374 and a vertical jump of 40.5 inches. He also benches 440 pounds, squats 605 pounds and has been clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.39.

"I learned so much at North Carolina and from Coach Davis," continued Carter. "I learned how to become a man, to take responsibility for my actions and how to become a leader."

Carter was considered a potential first round pick for quite some time, but the knee injury he suffered against N.C. State last November that cut short his senior season dropped him back a little bit.

Carter, who had reconstructive surgery on his left knee's ACL in December, has been given all clearances to play in the NFL.

"Bruce Carter would have been probably been (drafted) late in the first round had it not been for a knee injury late in the season. If not for the injury he was going to go around No. 25," said NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper.

Despite the injury he suffered last season, Carter earned his second straight second-team All-ACC selection in 2010 after recording 57 tackles, two sacks, and an interception.

The Cowboys are looking for talented youth at linebacker, and Carter---as UNC fans can attest---fits the mold.

"You talk about a kid who's 6-2, 240 (pounds) and a powerhouse. Strong kid lower body and upper body, very athletic and very fast. This kid can fly. He runs a 4.5 (second 40)," said Kiper.

"It makes sense. (current Dallas linebacker) Keith Brookings is getting up there a little bit," Kiper added.

"The kid really cares about his team. He's a good, solid player. The Cowboys are certainly looking to get younger at that position, and they're getting a kid with some versatility as well in Bruce Carter."

According to Kiper, one of the areas where Carter has to develop and improve in the NFL is his coverage skills and his 'killer instinct' mentality.

"I thought despite all that power in the weight room, he was more of a finesse player at times during his career at North Carolina. He's not an intimidator. He's a kind of guy who looks a little lost at times in coverage," said Kiper.

Former Super Bowl-winning head coach Jon Gruden spoke highly of new Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who clearly had influence in the decision to take Carter.

"A new defensive coordinator in Dallas I think is a great hire," Gruden said.

"I think Rob Ryan doesn't get enough credit. He's going to do a lot of things with these linebackers---I know he likes these guys that can play all three downs, and Carter has the athletic ability. Hopefully he's healthy and ready to go soon."

Carter will have a chance to earn an immediate starting job in Dallas's 3-4 defensive philosophy under Coach Ryan.


NOTE: UNC Athletic Communications provided the quotes from Carter used in this story


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