Sitting on a plane set to leave for Minnesota and a second tryout with the Vikings, Duron Carter spoke briefly about why he thinks he’s a much hotter NFL commodity now than he was the last time he visited Winter Park in the spring of 2013.
“It really was just me finally learning how to be a professional,” said Carter, the 23-year-old son of Vikings Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter. “Just handling the day-to-day business. Just staying focused. I’ve always been confident in my ability. I realized it’s about going out and taking advantage of it. It’s been a tough road, but I’m getting there.”
Carter, a 6-5, 205-pound receiver, said he will meet with Vikings receivers coach George Stewart over dinner tonight. He’ll be at Winter Park at 8 a.m. Friday for his workout.
Carter, a CFL All-Star with the Montreal Alouettes in 2014, said he already has had recent workouts with Tampa Bay, Indianapolis and the Chiefs. He has nothing scheduled after Friday at this point, but said he may also visit Carolina, San Francisco and Cleveland. He can’t sign with any team until next month.
“I can’t say what I’ll do after tomorrow,” he said. “The right situation will come up and I feel like I will know when that happens.”
In April of 2013, Carter was one of 30 players invited to a rookie minicamp. He was a tryout invitee, but didn’t receive a contract offer. He went to Canada, where this past season he caught 75 passes for 1,030 yards and seven touchdowns.
“I like Minnesota and I’m familiar with the area and the team,” Carter said. “I like the direction the team is heading and it would be a good opportunity to play with Teddy [Bridgewater]. I’ve known about Teddy because we grew up in the same area down in Miami.”
Carter, who was born in Fort Lauderdale, went to St. Thomas High School. Bridgewater went to Miami Northwestern.
“Teddy was a little younger, and we never played,” Carter said. “But I watched him play in the state championship one year. He’s a great player.”
Carter has been traveling a long road to prove that he can be trusted with an opportunity.
He went to Ohio State, his father’s alma mater, in 2009. He caught 13 passes, but missed the Rose Bowl because he was ruled academically ineligible. He transferred to Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College and caught 44 passes for 690 yards and 10 touchdowns in nine games in 2010.
He transferred to Alabama in 2011, but poor grades kept him off the field again. Eventually, he was suspended for undisclosed reasons and transferred to Florida Atlantic. But he never played there, either.
Cayden Cochran, Coffeyville's starting quarterback in 2010, used his Twitter account to post this about Duron a couple years ago: "The team that drafts Duron Carter will get the most lazy, whiny & non-work ethic player the nfl has ever seen. I played w/him. Horrible person & will be a complete cancer to any team on the board."
I talked to Duron before his tryout with the Vikings in 2013. He admitted that he needed to grow up.
"College football is the minor leagues of the NFL and I really messed that up," Duron said. "I guess I had to grow up. But school just didn't interest me."
I also talked to Cris about Duron in 2013. Cris wasn’t happy about his son’s college career, but said an NFL career was a possibility if he could make some changes in his life.
Cris, of course, became one of the greatest examples of what can be accomplished by making life changes. Cut by the Eagles and claimed by the Vikings for $100, Carter overcame alcohol and cocaine addictions to reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
"Very few have taken the route to the NFL that Duron has taken," Cris said. "It may take him some time, but he's got enough talent. He's got really good size, good speed [4.54 40-yard dash], and his route running is probably his strength. He has good hands. If he makes the necessary changes in his life, he's got a chance to make it in the NFL."
Duron wore No. 13 during his rookie tryout with the Vikings in 2013. In the CFL, he wore No. 89. If he were to sign with the Vikings and ask for No. 80, he’d have to ask his dad for permission to wear it since it has been retired by the team.
“Nah, I wouldn’t ask for No. 80,” Duron said. “That’s my old man’s old number. It belongs to him. I was 89 in Canada. I was 13 when I tried out there in 2013. I might want to keep 89 though. It worked for me in Canada.”