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Darnell Carter 'becoming a big part' of Virginia defense

With just more than five minutes remaining in the first half Saturday, Georgia Tech had first and goal at the Virginia 8-yard line. Yellow Jackets quarterback Joshua Nesbitt took the snap and turned to his left. It appeared as though he was going to run an option pitch with the running back several yards to his left.

But Nesbitt saw a 6-foot-2, 240-pound obstacle standing directly in his path. Nesbitt could not make a pitch safely -- he'd already tried to make several ill-advised pitches that game and was fortunate not to have lost several of the balls that were fumbled as a result. So instead of pitching the ball, Nesbitt tried to loft the ball over the obstacle's head.

That didn't work out so well, either. The obstacle -- Virginia fourth-year junior strong-side linebacker Darnell Carter -- batted the ball into the air and then caught the ball upon its descent, recording his first career interception.

After the game, Coach Mike London said the staff needed to find more opportunities to get Carter on the field. On Tuesday, Linebackers Coach Vincent Brown concurred.

"His quickness is very much good enough to do what we want to do defensively," Brown said. "We've placed a great deal of emphasis on initial quickness and being able to change directions, and he certainly has those qualities. We feel pretty good about his ability to help us at a number of different spots, whether it be one of the outside [linebacker] spots or the [middle linebacker] spot, if needed."

Carter has not started a game this season and is listed on the depth chart as the backup to sophomore LaRoy Reynolds. He also filled in as a fullback during a late-game goal-line situaton Saturday.

On the season, Carter has18 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. Prior to this season, Carter appeared to have been little more than an afterthought on the team. He appeared in four games in 2009 and in seven games in 2007, and he recorded all of one tackle combined during that time. Carter was suspended from the university for the 2008-09 academic year.

"He was here when I was here in 2007" as a graduate assistant, Brown said. "And during that time it was like, wow, you've got a big kid that can run, you know, with excellent quickness, and I was surprised during the previous two years that he hadn't played much. But he had some things that he had to get sorted out and work on, and he's done a good job of doing that, and he's becoming a big part of our defense. He has a knack for being around the ball and making plays. I think you'll see his role continue to grow with our defense."

By Steve Yanda  | October 13, 2010; 9:24 AM ET
Categories:  Football  
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