By Rich Kurtzman
Tony Carter, CB, #32
Weight: 180 pounds
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
College: Florida State University
Experience: 4 seasons
Before Monday night, Tony Carter was just another backup for the Broncos. Now he should be known as a household name in Denver, after his gargantuan game against the Chargers.
Carter, a fourth-year cornerback, saw significant time in the team’s biggest game of the year due to starter Tracy Porter being held out with an illness.
Early in the second half, Carter made the play of the game—possibly the year—when he recovered a Philip Rivers’ fumble and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown. After Elvis Dumervil smacked the ball out of Rivers’ hand, the ball bounced around and a teammate batted it to Carter, who took it to the house and ignited Denver’s defense. That score brought the Broncos to within 10 points, as San Diego led 24-14, and it was the turning point of the game.
That play set the tone for the second half and the Chargers turned it over a total of five times after the break, one of which was an interception by Carter on a deep pass play.
The Denver defense completely shut down San Diego’s offense in the second half, blanking them, while the Broncos’ O put up 21 points after turnovers. Carter was a key player in the big game that gave Denver the early AFC West lead, but who was he before he landed in the Mile High City?
A Jacksonville, Florida native, he attended Mandarin High School in his home town, where she not only played football but ran track as well.
He graduated and moved up to play for Florida State around 150 miles away from where he grew up, Carter was spectacular for the Seminoles, recording at least two interceptions in each of his final three years there. His sophomore season, he returned two picks a blocked field goal all for touchdowns, while he also took back a blocked point after attempt for two points. That same season, he was named the Most Valuable Defensive Player after FSU’s Emerald Bowl win. In his senior year, Carter earned All-ACC honors, but it wasn’t enough to be drafted by an NFL team.
The Broncos signed the undrafted corner days after the 2009 Draft, but he was a casualty of final cuts and was signed to the team’s practice squad. He played in Weeks 15 and 16 that year, but was waived by the Broncos in early 2010.
The Patriots picked him up and he would enjoy very similar success in New England before he was waived again.
In 2011, he spend most of the season on Minnesota’s practice squad before being re-signed in Denver where he’s made his home since.
This season, Carter’s accomplished more than his three previous years combined. His seven tackles, three passes defended, one interception and fumble recovery for a touchdown are all career-highs—maybe he’s finally hitting his stride.
Carter is certainly maturing on the football field, and when he was immature on twitter—saying disparaging remarks about seeing a movie in Denver at night—he was quick to correct those remarks.
With Champ Bailey aging and Porter playing so-so, the Broncos need youthful, talented cornerbacks, and it looks like Carter could be a future starter in Denver, if not a star.
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Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Find more of Rich’s Denver Broncos pieces on Examiner.com.