Tariq Carpenter became the 21st commitment of Georgia Tech’s 2017 class on the morning of January 29th, just a few days before National Signing Day and on the tail end of his official visit to the Flats on the final weekend full of official visits. Carpenter is listed at 6’2”, weighs in around 190 pounds, and comes to the Flats from Long County High School in Ludowici, GA — about an hour southwest of Savannah, and right outside of Jesup. He flipped to Georgia Tech after a lengthy commitment to UCF, an official visit to Miami (the previous weekend), and several offers from Group of 5 programs. He’s rated a two-star prospect by Rivals (5.4) and a three-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite (0.8182).
Rather than trying to dictate my own scouting report from Carpenter’s senior highlights, I’m going to defer to the eloquently-stated evaluation that Kieffer included in the commitment article linked above — it pretty perfectly matches my own thoughts.
Carpenter’s length and range are on full display in his senior highlights. His team trusts him to cover large portions of the field in both the run game and the pass game. Playing at the AAA level, Carpenter was often one of the biggest and fastest men on the field, and it showed. He punished runners when he arrived at the point of attack and was a dangerous threat as both a returner and a receiver. Carpenter was regularly used near the line of scrimmage to support the run as well. He excelled here, as he was nearly impossible to block in space.
All that upside is not without downside, as Carpenter is fairly raw. Tackling form needs to improve, and there wasn’t an abundance of coverage tape in his highlights. Carpenter plays largely a “center field” zone coverage role, and rarely, if ever, played man coverage. He’ll need to learn the coverage schemes and skills he’ll be using in college, which could make a redshirt year likely. Carpenter is also still growing into his frame, so a year to learn schemes and fill out his frame could help his development and help the coaches decide where they will play him long-term.
A couple of things I’ll add:
- I disagree to some degree with the “punished runners” piece of Kieffer’s take — I felt like Carpenter’s highlights didn’t show a consistent theme of him squaring up and punishing ball carriers. There were definitely some hard tackles in there, but they seemed to be driven by speed and length rather than size and strength.
- I think a prevailing theme, which shows in his ability to navigate traffic and be a threat with the ball in his hands (as Kieffer mentioned), was Carpenter’s excellent sense of vision. He consistently does a nice job of seeing holes, taking good angles, and avoiding blockers (or tacklers).
Overall, Carpenter brings plenty of size and athleticism, with some really nice intangible tools to go with them. It’s going to be interesting seeing how he develops as a player and how the coaches use him within the Yellow Jackets’ defense.
What to Expect
Long-term, Carpenter projects somewhere between safety, nickel corner, and linebacker. With plenty of returning depth at each of those positions, and so much talent at those positions coming in alongside Carpenter within the recruiting class, I’m not expecting to see him on the field on defense this fall. With his vision and instincts, there’s a chance that Carpenter plays immediately on special teams in some capacity, specifically on coverage units.
At 6’2” and 188 pounds, Carpenter has plenty of room to add weight during college — but that’s not to say that he necessarily will. Ultimately, where he ends up on the field will end on his development, both physically and technically. He has the length, vision, and athleticism to play safety or nickel corner, while he has the knack for run support needed to play linebacker. In my mind, his skill set probably fits best at linebacker, but playing there would require him to add around 20 pounds to his frame.
At the end of the day, Carpenter is a high-ceiling prospect that can add a lot to Georgia Tech’s defense, although it’s unclear the capacity he’ll end up doing so. His development, physically and technically, will dictate where he ends up on the Yellow Jackets’ defense.