JONESBORO — Westside senior Kade Carter will switch from the gridiron to the mat as he moves from high school to college.
Carter signed a letter of intent Wednesday to compete in wrestling next year at Williams Baptist University. A two-way player for the Warrior football team, Carter earned an opportunity to compete in wrestling through his involvement with a jiu-jitsu school in Jonesboro.
“I was there four years ago and learning the hard way how to move,” said Carter, who has been nominated for induction into the Williams Honors Program. “Self defense, really, is what we were driving for and then we focused more on sports jiu-jitsu. I did a couple of tournaments and we got those tournaments online. We contacted the wrestling coach, Coach (Todd) Allen, and that’s how I got noticed.”
Currently in the 205-pound range, Carter expects to wrestle in the 197-pound class for the Eagles, although he’s receptive to trimming down even more to the 184-pound class.
“Getting the opportunity to even go up and play any sport is just super exciting and very thrilling, especially since it’s wrestling,” Carter said. “I’ve always loved jiu-jitsu and rolling around with my brothers, and being able to do that at the college level is super exciting.”
Allen, who is in his fourth season at WBU, said Carter’s mother connected with him on social media.
“She messaged me and said, ‘My son does jiu-jitsu, he’s never wrestled.’ I was all for it,” Allen said. “A lot of times I’ll get kids who have been wrestling years and years and they’re kind of motivationally done by the time they get to me, but the nice thing is bringing a kid like Kade in, they have that hunger to learn, to grow that those kids who have been in don’t have. I’m able to use him as an example and say, ‘Maybe he’s the least experienced on our team, but he’s hungry, he’s coming in every day, where is that with you?’”
Carter played center and nose guard for the Warrior football team, also handling long snapping duties.
With Carter’s compact build, Westside head football coach Bobby Engle said he should be a good fit as a wrestler.
“He’s a really strong kid, well over a 500-pound squat and over a 300-pound bench press. He’s pretty flexible, the kid can do a full backflip in full pads,” Engle said. “It’s not going to be a big adjustment for him coming from football to wrestling, and I think wrestling is really what he loves to do. I think football was a side sport for him.”