Nigel Warrior doesn’t have to think long nor hard when he watches his father play football. The similarities are remarkable. He sees himself.
“I watched my dad play on videos and in person,” said Warrior, who is one of Tennessee’s most coveted prospects. “Everything is the same. Nothing is different. We’re very similar.”
That’s enough to get recruiters’ attention. Warrior’s father, Dale Carter, was one of the most explosive players in the SEC in the early 1990s. After transferring from junior college, Carter was named an All-American in 1990. He led the nation with 507 yards on 17 kick returns for an average of 29.8yards per return. Carter also returned 29 punts for 381 yards, which resulted in a 13.1-yard average.
Carter was known for his play as a top-flight defensive back. He was named one of three finalists for the Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s top defensive back, in his senior season. Carter went on to star for the Kansas City Chiefs. At one point, he signed a four-year, $22.8-million contract with the Denver Broncos, which made him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive back at the time. Carter went on to play for the Vikings, Saints and Ravens before retiring after the 2005 season.
Despite the long list of impressive feats, Warrior said he never felt pressure to live up to his father’s legacy.
“It wasn’t pressure at all,” the 4-star prospect from Peachtree Ridge (Suwanee, Ga.) said. “It was a blessing to have a dad that was outstanding and went to the pros. He’s there to make you better, like everyday.”
Carter’s advice to his son was simple.
“Don’t give up,” Warrior recalled his father telling him. “If you mess up, go full speed. Always go full speed on the field.”
Most think Carter’s time at Tennessee won’t have much of an effect on his son’s recruitment. Many have speculated that Carter’s success could actually work against the Vols, and that Warrior may want to blaze his own path. While that may eventually be the case, credit Tennessee for staying in the hunt while Warrior also considers other SEC heavyweights like LSU, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
“I know about the football team,” Warrior said of the Vols. “The coaching staff is outstanding. The players are great people. I think it’s going to build up to a great thing.”
Warrior’s family lives just northwest of Atlanta. He said location will be key in his looming college decision.
“Making sure my mom can come to every game,” Warrior said when asked what the keys are in his decision. “Having a great relationship with the coaches, that’s what I’m looking for. And just going to a great environment where I can call home.”
That could certainly help Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina, which are all within a reasonable distance from his hometown.
As for now, Warrior said he has no leader and won’t announce his chosen school until National Signing Day. As for the Vols, they’ll continue to hang around and hope the rumors that Warrior is headed elsewhere are simply speculation. Tennessee will have Warrior’s final visit on Jan. 29. They’ll hope that’s enough to sure up another Vol legacy.
Warrior is the No. 4 safety in the nation and the No. 9 player in the state of Georgia.