Jermaine Carter Jr. has had an up-and-down junior campaign.
However, the Maryland linebacker had a very good ending to the regular season on Saturday.
In Maryland’s 31-13 win over Rutgers, Carter accumulated 15 tackles (eight solo) and a pair of sacks. He also made arguably the play of the game in the second half when the Scarlet Knights were driving.
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On Rutgers’ first drive of the second half, quarterback Giovanni Rescigno took the snap and rolled out to his right. Then he committed the cardinal sin for his position by throwing across his body.
Rescigno still managed to complete the pass 30 yards down the field to running back Justin Goodwin. As Goodwin hauled in the pass, Carter stripped the ball right out of Goodwin’s hands and took it with him to the ground for the fumble recovery.
At the time, Maryland held a 21-7 lead just out of halftime and certainly could’ve relinquished it under the right circumstances.
“I just knew I was beat, so I knew I couldn’t look back for the ball,” Carter said. “If I looked back, I would’ve lost a step. I just kept my eyes on the receiver and didn’t panic. When I saw the ball come down in his hands, I instinctively just went to take the ball away and my hands didn’t allow me to drop it.”
Carter’s incredible play was one of the most memorable of the entire season for Maryland on either side of the football.
However, that wasn’t the time that Carter was able to make a huge impact against Rutgers.
On the Scarlet Knights’ second drive of the game, Rutgers was facing a 3rd-and-9 as they already trailed 7-0 after a Kenneth Goins Jr. rushing touchdown.
Carter lined up on the edge and blitzed Rescigno. The former Friendship Collegiate Academy (D.C.) standout uses to speed to blow by right tackle Kamaal Seymour for the easy sack.
He also recorded a sack in the fourth quarter when Maryland brought an overload blitz. Carter ended up shooting straight up the middle untouched for the game-clinching sack.
On the season, Carter recorded five sacks and had one apiece in games against Central Florida, Florida International, and Purdue. He also had a pick six against the Golden Panthers.
Coming into the season, Carter was going to be one of the guys that coach D.J. Durkin leaned on consistently for leadership. He finished the regular season with 103 tackles (52 solo), eight tackles-for-loss, five sacks, and four defended passes.
The combination of Carter and Shane Cockerille have been very productive this season. That’ll give the Terps plenty of talent in the front seven next season when guys like Roman Braglio and Azubuike Ukandi graduate.