The Big 10 Network named a Michigan’s Mount Rushmore in 2014 and those four members were Heisman Trophy winners Tom Harmon, Desmond Howard, Charles Woodson and Anthony Carter.
Considering how much talent the Michigan Wolverines have had over the years, that’s quite an honor. Anthony Carter never won a Heisman Trophy, but he was a 4 year starter and a game breaker.
Coming out of high school, Anthony Carter was recruited by everybody and I mean everybody. They all wanted the big play kid from Riviera Beach, Florida.
Eric Dickerson, from Sealy, Texas was the top recruit in the country in the 1979 class. That is, if you didn’t consider the top guy to be John Elway from Granada Hills, California. Other recognizable
names in the top 30 nationally that year were Don Mosebar of Visalia, California or Joey Browner from Atlanta, Georgia. Roger Craig from Davenport, Iowa brings back lots of memories, as does Michael Carter from Dallas, Texas.
But, Anthony Carter from Riviera Beach, Florida was right up there with almost any of them.
This Carter kid was magnificent coming out of high school and nationally recruited. I will never forget being disappointed when Carter picked Michigan over my school, but I never let it ruin the enjoyment of watching him play college football. He was incredible, just as smooth and elusive as could be.
To this day, he is considered one of the very best to ever come out of Palm Beach County, or South Florida.
Throwing the football was not a huge priority for Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler, but he landed Anthony Carter, anyway.
Carter was not a huge guy standing probably about 5-11 and weighing about 160 pounds. But, he was still a talent because of his speed and athletic ability.
1979 was not a great season for Schembechler’s Wolverines. They lost 4 games. But, they lost by 2 points to 9th ranked Notre Dame early in the season. Then, they lost to 14th ranked Purdue by 3.
They lost by 3 points to 2nd ranked Ohio State and then they lost by 2 points to North Carolina in the Gator Bowl.
Four year starter at quarterback, Rick Leach, had departed and John Wangler moved into the starter’s
role. Leach was a great runner, and Wangler was more of a passer.
True freshman Anthony Carter was only third on the team in receptions with 17. But, they went for 462 yards and 7 touchdowns. He averaged a very impressive 27.2 yards per catch. He also returned kicks and punts and had his first punt return for a touchdown.
On October 27th of the 1979 season, the struggling Wolverines were tied with Indiana and head coach Lee Corso, 21-21. In a play that would sum up Anthony Carter really well, time was expiring and John Wangler hit Carter and let his electric young receiver do the rest. Carter made a few people miss and took it in for a touchdown saving the day for Michigan. What a talent this guy was.
As a sophomore the following season, Carter had a breakout season. With Wangler back at quarterback the duo hooked up quite a bit with Carter hauling in 51 receptions for 818 yards and 14 touchdowns. Carter didn’t have any return touchdowns, but he was always scary with the ball in his hands.
The Wolverines started off the season poorly with a close win over an egregious Northwestern team that didn’t win a game all season. Then, Michigan lost to Notre Dame and a pretty good South Carolina that featured Heisman Trophy winning running back George Rogers. With a 1-2 start, the masses were probably speaking of lynch mobs for Bo Schembechler.
But, Michigan recovered and won the rest of their games including wins over 16th ranked Purdue, rival and 5th ranked Ohio State and 16th ranked Washington in the Rose Bowl. They beat Purdue 26-0 and held Ohio State to 3 points as the defense became very dominating. Purdue quarterback Mark Herrman was a Heisman candidate and they completely shut him down.
The already mentioned George Rogers won the Heisman Trophy in 1980, but sophomore Anthony
Carter finished in 10th place. He also made the All American team.
As the 1981 college football season came around, John Wangler was gone, but Steve Smith replaced him and Smith was the second ranked recruit in the entire nation coming in. Smith was able to connect with Carter 50 times for 952 yards and 8 touchdowns. Carter didn’t score any touchdowns on returns this season, but he averaged over 27 yards on kickoff returns and he had over 11 yards per punt return. Carter did get another score on the ground when he carried the ball 12 times and gained 67 yards.
Again, Carter was a first team All American and this time he finished 7th in the Heisman Trophy race well behind winner, Marcus Allen of USC.
Michigan had it’s struggles in 1981 with a loss to Wisconsin, 12th ranked Iowa and Ohio State.
Anthony Carter was back for his senior season in 1982, but Michigan lost 4 games which is never going to cut it in Ann Arbor.
Carter caught 43 passes for 844 yards and 8 touchdowns. For the first time since he was a true freshman, Carter returned a punt for a touchdown.
Again, Carter was a first team All American and he finished 4th in the Heisman race with Herschel Walker.
After college, Anthony Carter decided to play in the new USFL with the Detroit Panthers. With the closing of the United States Football League, Carter had a really good career in the NFL for 11 seasons.
The 3 time All American was one of the best all time Michigan players and one of the best college football players of all time. He was one of the most exciting football players I have ever had the pleasure to watch and he will live on in the memories of college football fans forever.