ETSU fullback has great expectations

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF

   JOHNSON CITY-- East Tennessee State fullback Scott Carter wears No. 40 on the football field each Saturday in the fall.
   That's appropriate because his jersey nearly matches his grade-point average. Carter has enjoyed several 4.0 semesters since he has been at ETSU, and he currently carries a 3.938 G.P.A majoring in sports management.
   Carter, a senior academically but a junior in eligibility, is minoring in marketing.
   As you can probably tell from his superb G.P.A, Carter takes his academics very seriously.
   "One of these days football and all the other sports we enjoy are going to be over with, and you are going to have to fall back on what's in your mind," Carter said. "I think it's important to take the word student-athlete very seriously.
   "It's great to play sports when we come to college and we have a great time doing it, but when we leave here we want to have that piece of paper, and I take it real seriously because that's going to be what I use to provide for my family the rest of my life."
   The world of college sports is filled with players becoming academically ineligible, or being suspended for violating some rule. But Carter is definitely not one of those guys. He knew why he was going to college.
   "I think the most important thing about being a student athlete, and being in college is getting that degree," Carter said. "It's important to give 110 percent in the classroom because nobody can take your mind from you."
   Growing up in the Knoxville area, Carter always gave it his all out on the football field. But later on he found himself competing just as hard in the classroom.
   "I've been a competitor since I've been a little kid," Carter said. "It started out in sports when I was real young, and then it got to be a game with myself in the classroom. I just kind of competed with myself on each test, and tried to do better and better.
   "I took it the same way I did with sports. I studied and I worked just as hard in classroom as I did out on the playing field. Fortunately, it's paid off. My parents really instilled the values in me when I was young. I think it's important to work as hard in the classroom as you do on the field."
   Some college athletes struggle with trying to balance athletics and academics, but Carter says good time management skills and hard work are the keys.
   "Time management skills are really tough because athletics really require so much of our time," Carter said. "It's not that easy. It requires a whole lot of work, and there's going to be people here or there that struggle with it."
   Carter will be graduating in May, and then will be attending graduate school and playing football in the fall. His roommate is a football player who is currently in that situation, and that happens to be ETSU starting quarterback Matt Wilhjelm.
   Wilhjelm is also a very good student, and is somebody that Carter looks up to as an outstanding student-athlete.
   "He's been a great example to me and all the other guys," Carter said. "It's good to have a guy like that as a leader on our team, and obviously to know that your quarterback has got it between the ears is also a good confidence booster. But he's a great influence for all of us."
   Setting a good example off the field is important for Carter, but he also carries himself well on the field. Carter strives to show leadership no matter what he does.
   "I try to be a leader and lead by example," Carter said. "I don't talk a whole lot or anything like that. I try to be a humble guy, and be everybody's buddy. Life's too short not to get along with everybody."
   When Carter needs to be pushed, ETSU head coach Paul Hamilton is always there. Carter respects his coach for the way he pushes his players in the classroom.
   "I'd say he pushes us as hard if not harder in the classroom as he does on the field," Carter said. "You can't play unless you get those grades. That's what he tells us. He's got a passion for football, and he knows our minds are going to carry us in the classroom, on the field, and after we leave here.
   "We have academic report sheets that we have to fill out, we have study hall we have to do, and he's a real stickler for that. If you're going to play on his team, you're going to perform in the classroom. I think that's a great quality that he and all the coaches have got. It takes a lot to be an athlete and he knows that, and if you're not willing to pay the price then you're not going to be on his team."
   Carter also gives credit to academic advisor Kim Reece for his academic success.
   "Kim is a blessing to all of us," Carter said. "I think we may give her the biggest headache because we're the biggest team. She has to deal with all of us, and that's a chore in itself. I'm sure there's several hundred student athletes she has to advise, but she is everybody's mom away from home. She makes sure we're doing the right things and going to class.
   "She is just instrumental in what goes on off the field, which carries on to our playing."
   With graduation on the horizon for Carter this coming May, he will experience an even bigger day the following month. Carter will be getting married to Kristen King in June. Carter and King have been dating for eight years.
   It's something Carter is very excited about.
   "Kristen's going to be graduating the same day as I am, and I'm thrilled to death about that," Carter said. "We're working on all the wedding plans right now, and then as soon as the season is over we'll really bear down some more, and start doing counseling sessions with our chaplain Earle Chute and my pastor back home.
   "As soon as we graduate it will really get down to wedding planning time, and we're just going to have a ball with it. We're really excited, and can't wait. We'll sink whole heartedly into the marriage thing, and then go through the ceremony and get on our honeymoon. Then we'll come back and set up for the rest of our lives."