- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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"Truthfully, some of the things I do amaze me. I look at films and say, 'How did I do that?' I look awkward. Knock-kneeded. Both my feets be off the ground. I know it can't be true, but it shows up on the film like that."
Carter realizes that his one weakness is a tendency to cut his routes a bit shorter than he is supposed to. He has his reasons for this. For one thing, he doesn't trust current Quarterback Steve Smith's arm the way he trusted Wangler's. But mostly, he says, "It's 'cause I want the ball early. I'm out there wanting to yell at him, 'Give me the ball! I'm open! Now! Here! Give it to me now!' "
"He has that sense," says Schembechler. "He knows where everybody on the field is. I don't know how. And after he catches the ball"—Bo says this with maximum emphasis—"He's the best receiver I've ever seen in the open field."
Off the field you'd never take Carter for a guy who is shortly sure to become Michigan's second three-time football All-America ( Bennie Oosterbaan was the first, 1925-1927). He doesn't mix into Ann Arbor's social whirl, has virtually no friends outside the football team and is one of the least likely candidates around for Big Man on Campus. "The guys on the team call me the Hermit," he says. A typical Carter evening consists of study and viewing the likes of That's Incredible!, Benny Hill and The Three Stooges on the tube. "And then I'm into bed. Every night," he says.
Carter gets along especially well with children. He enjoys the one day a week he works with handicapped youngsters at Ann Arbor's High Point School as part of the requirement for a course in special education.
Being the sixth in a family of eight children tends to give one the patience to do such work. His mother, Manita, who works as a chambermaid in a Palm Beach hotel, raised that brood all alone. Anthony was a bit of a problem to Manita at one time, skipping school to hang out at the Jiffy Pool Hall—"Jiffy University we called it," he says—until she sat him down one day. "I scared him up," she says. "Told him if he didn't go to school I'd put him in a children's home."
By the time he was in the ninth grade. Carter was on the Sun Coast High varsity football team, and soon word of his deeds spread through Florida and beyond. He scored 54 touchdowns in four years and the recruiters came in droves, hustling the not very worldly Carter with outrageous promises. Shirley Burgess, the dean of students at Sun Coast, helped him sort out the blatantly bogus from the merely enthusiastic and urged him to "go someplace where they'll like you as a person and not just a football player." That pared the list down quickly, and Michigan emerged as the winner, beating out Florida State and Texas.
Thus began the father-son relationship between Schembechler and Carter, one that nearly ended when Carter fled for home only three days after he arrived in Ann Arbor. "That was the funniest story of all," says Schembechler. "I had him on the phone and said, 'Now Anthony, you're not going to leave here without talking to me, are you?' 'Oh no, Coach. I'm not going to do anything without talking to you.' So I hung up the phone and the next thing I know he's in Florida! So I got him on the phone down there and said, 'You promised me you'd talk to me before you left here.' Anthony said, 'Oh yeah. I'm going to talk to you. I'm not going to do anything before I talk to you.' " Schembechler convulses in laughter telling the story. "Oh, he's beautiful, isn't he? Isn't he cute?"
Carter was on campus three days later, and since then Schembechler has personally monitored practically every move he has made. And when Carter does something Schembechler doesn't like, Schembechler lets him know about it in Bo-speak, which is to say, as bluntly as possible. The coach worries most about agents, crawling—in Schembechler's view—from under every rock, looking for an opportunity to get Carter's signature on the nearest dotted line. If any are trying, they are surely out-of-towners, because everyone who knows anything about Michigan football knows better than to trespass on Schembechler's lawn. The other day former President and Michigan Center Gerald Ford showed up at the Wolverines' practice field. A photographer asked for permission to pose Ford with a fellow Michigan MVP named Carter. "Christ," said Colonel Bob Barrett, Ford's aide, "he's on Bo's turf now. The President wouldn't go to the bathroom here without asking Bo's permission."
Schembechler is fiercely protective of Carter—whom the Michigan players have nicknamed Little Schemmy—and as with any father whose son is growing up too quickly, sometimes the relationship gets a little strained. Schembechler loudly disapproves, for instance, of Carter's year-old romantic relationship with Ortancis Thomas, a 32-year-old city councilwoman in Riviera Beach. Carter shrugs and says, "I didn't pick Bo's wife, Millie, for him."