It’s not everyday Tennessee football beats out the Alabama Crimson Tide for highly touted prospects in this era, including in-state ones. As a result, when Josh Heupel reeled in such a prospect for 2023 this week, it was a huge deal.
Linebacker Arion Carter out of Smyrna High School in Rutherford County, Tenn., which is part of the Nashville metropolitan area, committed to UT over Alabama and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Carter is a four-star across the board.
Carter was initially committed to the Memphis Tigers from July through November of this year. An running back, linebacker and safety in high school, He announced his commitment to Tennessee football at his school Wednesday and later confirmed it on Twitter.
Standing at 6’1″ and weighing in the range of 205 to 215 pounds, Carter is listed as an inside linebacker specifically on Rivals and ESPN. He is the third player listed there to commit to the Vols’ 2023 class, joining Jeremiah Telander and Jalen Smith.
Caleb Herring, the younger brother of 2022 commit Elijah Herring, could also play linebacker, but he appears to be more of an edge rusher. Either way, this area of the field on defense was clearly a huge focus for UT in recruiting.
This is also a position of need. Jeremy Banks is likely gone, and Aaron Beasley and Juwan Mitchell likely only have one year left. Both seemed to struggle without Banks in the lineup anyway. Because of this, Carter could really help out. Here is a look at his highlight reel.
As you can see, Carter has a habit to run full-steam ahead to the backfield, but he’s also good at finding the gaps and openings to get there. It’s rare that he gets out of position, and that’s a great start for a linebacker coming into the SEC with potential.
Obviously, Carter’s abilities in coverage are still a question, and that’s what Tennessee football will need to work with him on. However, he’s clearly a huge pickup for them. The Vols now have 25 commitments, six from within the state, for 2023.