Clemson linebacker Barrett Carter is coming back for his senior season with the Tigers, he announced on social media Thursday. The two-time All-ACC selection was the top linebacker in the 2024 CBS Sports NFL Draft Prospect Rankings and the No. 32 overall prospect.
Carter missed one game with injury in 2023 and still finished second among Clemson defenders with 63 tackles, nine of which went for a loss. He also recorded three sacks and three pass breakups while playing 579 snaps for the Tigers.
After serving a key reserve player his true freshman year, Carter earned a starting role in 2022. He quickly emerged as one of college football's top defenders. He became just the third player since 2019 to record at least 10 tackles for loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions, joining former Clemson defensive star Isaiah Simmons.
Carter's success should come as no surprise. He was one of the most coveted recruits in America when he signed with the Tigers in 2021 out of Suwanee, Georgia. A five-star prospect, he was the No. 1 linebacker and No. 18 overall player in his class.
What it means for Clemson
It's huge anytime a team can get one of its defensive leaders and a potential early-round draft pick to return to school, but this decision looms especially large considering the Tigers' situation at linebacker. Carter's return offsets the loss of another star in linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. Trotter -- the son and namesake of former four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jeremiah Trotter -- announced in November that he will forgo his final season of eligibility with the Tigers and enter the draft.
Trotter paced Clemson in defensive snaps (676), tackles (88), tackles for loss (15) and sacks (5.5). His 16 quarterback pressures and six pass breakups both ranked second on the team and he was one of four Tigers to return an interception for a touchdown.
The two linebackers listed behind Trotter on Clemson's depth chart -- Kobe McCloud and Dee Crayton -- are both freshmen. Neither saw a ton of playing time in 2023 with Trotter eating up a lion's share of the available snaps. One of them will likely have to step up and fill his place in 2024, though. Having a veteran like Carter running alongside them will help smooth the transition and will alleviate some of the pressure that comes with being a young starter on a team with perennially high expectations.