Andre Carter was lifted into the air as his Army teammates sang their fight song “On, Brave Old Army Team” in the postgame locker-room celebration Saturday.
Carter’s incredible junior season continued with three sacks and two forced fumbles in a 33-17 win over UMass. Army’s single-season sack record, set by Josh McNary in 2009, is now in Carter’s possession with a total of 13.5 sacks in 10 games.
One of the traditions of Army’s program under Jeff Monken is for current players to send letters to a former Army football players at the start of each season. Carter wrote to McNary last season, not knowing that he would be chasing the former Colts linebacker’s mark, this year.
“It’s definitely an honor to be able to do that (set the sack record) and that was a good feeling,” Carter said Saturday. “It’s a good feeling to be able to celebrate with my teammates. It’s just a good feeling all around especially when you can get a win and we were able to do that today.”
Carter’s sensational 2021 season is one of the best by an Army defensive player over the last 20 years and compares to McNary’s 12.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries for Army’s 2010 Armed Forces Bowl champion team. Carter’s four forced fumbles are one off the Army record set by Lyle Weaver (1999), Steve Anderson (2008) and James Nachtigal (2018).
Defensive coordinator Nate Woody and Monken have spoken throughout the season about Carter’s work ethic and desire to learn as much as possible about Army’s scheme and their opponents.
Carter earned the respect of Army’s more experienced players while playing on the scout team his freshman season.
“IT WAS SO HARD BLOCKING THIS DUDE,” Kell Walker posted on Twitter Saturday. “He made our offense better every day. That man too tough.”
Carter showed moments of greatness in his first career start against Georgia Southern last season. Carter’s presence was known after a sack, late interception, forced fumble and blocked extra point in a one-point win.
Amazing to think that Carter, who is listed at 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds, was a tight end his senior season at Ridge Point High School in Missouri City, Texas. He didn’t see his first significant snaps on the other side of the ball until his post-graduate year at Cheshire Academy in 2018.
“That was the first time he had ever played defense,” Cheshire Academy coach David Dykeman said. “It was clear right away though that he had incredible talent and a drive and determination to improve every day.”
That drives continues this week as Army prepares for Liberty and quarterback Malik Willis, who has thrown 23 touchdowns this season.
Carter is currently tied for nation’s sack lead with Alabama’s Will Anderson, who has played one more game. Carter is bidding to become the first Army player to finish as the country’s sack leader.
Army has three more games left in the season – Liberty, Navy and a bowl game. Alabama plays Auburn this week, Georgia in the SEC championship Dec. 4 followed by a potential berth in the College Football playoff semifinal.
Carter and McNary share a few things in common. Both played finished their high school career in Texas. And, both needed to prove themselves to get an opportunity for the Black Knights – Carter at Cheshire Academy and McNary as a walk-on at Army Prep.
Maybe, Carter will follow McNary’s NFL path after his college career. That’s talk for next season. Carter’s 2021 breakout season isn’t done yet.