Former walk-on Nate Carter helps carry rushing load for BYU Cougars

Ari Davis
Nate Carter runs the ball against UCLA on Sept. 20, 2015. Carter began his BYU football career as a walk-on and has transitioned into a scholarship holder. (Ari Davis)

Senior BYU running back Nate Carter knows what it takes to earn playing time.

Carter walked on to the team as a freshman in 2010. His numberless hours as a member of the scout team through the years paid off when head coach Bronco Mendenhall awarded him a scholarship for the 2015 season.

According to BYU running back coach Mark Atuaia, Carter had to start from the “absolute bottom.”

He started his football career at Dixie High School from 2006-08, where he also played baseball and wrestled. His 276 yards as a sophomore set a school record for rushing yards in a single game. He then played one season for the College of the Desert in Palm Desert, California, before making his way to BYU in 2010.

Carter’s entry to BYU football was not a glorified one, nor was it filled with hype. His time at BYU started with hard work behind the scenes, filled with sacrifice and hope for something more.

Carter was seemingly unknown to the Cougar faithful up until his junior season. He had aspirations to be more than just another player on the scout team, a role he found himself in during his redshirt and freshman years. He only had one carry and one recorded yard his sophomore year against Idaho State.

For some, that would be the time to give up, to move on to a different stage in life.

“When I stop enjoying football, when I stop enjoying practice, that’s when I will stop. And that never happened,” Carter said.

And all that practice has payed off. On the night of Oct. 18, 2014, the 5-foot-9-inch, 189-pound running back burst into the limelight in a game against Nevada, catching fans’ attention by surprise.

Carter ended up rushing for 87 yards against Nevada that night. He averaged 12.4 yards per carry highlighted by a 22-yard run against the Wolfpack.

Carter came into the game as a walk-on, as someone fans had never really heard of, and put up numbers that 2014 running back Jamaal Williams normally would.

That drive is what earned him his scholarship from Mendenhall. His hard work, sacrifice and Williams’ departure for the year helped him become a starting running back alongside Algernon Brown and Adam Hine.

Carter came away with 102 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries in the Cougars’ win over Wagner on Oct. 24, including a 70-yard touchdown burst down the sideline against the Seahawks.

“It’s been a dream come true,” Carter said. “The opportunity to play here has always been a dream of mine.”

Carter’s resiliency is what has pushed him onto the playing field in 2015.

“His ability to be resilient is what I like best about Nate,” Atuaia said.

BYU’s opponents are focused on stopping BYU’s run game, according to offensive coordinator Robert Anae, but that won’t stop Carter from fighting for every yard.

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