In the 1978 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected quarterback Doug Williams with the 17th pick. Williams would go on to become the first black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins, and eventually go on to coach his alma mater, Grambling State University. Forty years later, Grambling running back Martez Carter is one of the biggest names to surface out of the Historically Black College scene in years.
Dubbed “Mr. Excitement”, Carter led the Tigers to a 2016 HBCU National Championship, and the team finished as runner-up in 2017. However, what many do not know is the road he took to get there.
What Influenced Your Decision to Go To Grambling State?
“Unfortunately I didn’t get to play my senior year of high school, so I walked on to play basketball at Wiley College.”
In what is supposed to be the best times of a teenager’s life, Carter struggled in many regards. With a mother working a majority of the day, father in and out of his life and an older brother in prison, Carter cared for his siblings. Between his two parents, Carter is one of 11 siblings. Financially, Carter’s home was in shambles, with a dispute over lack of clothing resulting in Carter leaving the house. At 14, Carter was homeless and struggling academically. Nevertheless, as an athlete, he was thriving, leading the Richwood Rams of Monroe, LA to a Class 3A State Title as quarterback. On the basketball court, Carter played point guard for the Rams, highlighting his dazzling athleticism via dunks exists on his YouTube highlight tape.
After his dismissal from the team for academic ineligibility, Carter moved to Georgia, transferring to Atlanta Sports Academy, a prep school. However, that lasted just a few weeks, before he returned to Richwood.
Carter’s basketball talents kept him afloat, earning a full ride to Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. Yet, after a year, his head coach would depart for Mississippi Valley State, which voided Carter’s scholarship. Nevertheless, Grambling State coach Broderick Lee Fobbs saw talent in Carter, offering a spot as a walk-on. Carter arrived as a cornerback, making a name on special teams, and the rest is history.
You’ve Helped Bring the Grambling Program Back to Glory, How Would You Describe Your Career as a Tiger?”
“It’s probably one of the best decision’s I’ve ever made. Playing for Grambling, I took a leap of faith, and it just so happened that we had a great head coach and the program was restored through his expertise of recruiting. It was just a great experience altogether.”
With the success of Tarik Cohen and others, teams are looking at HBCUs again for dynamic players. How does it feel to be the main name leading the HBCUs this year?
“It feels good actually to be a role model for not only kids and other players. To be the face right now is motivation, I’m just kind of living in the moment.”
What are some things about your game that you feel can help a team at the next level?
“I run between the tackles and catch out the backfield well. I’m a good returner, I just play a big part to an even bigger puzzle.”
What are some areas of your game that you personally feel like you can improve on?
“Route-running and blocking. These are things I critique myself very hard on. I feel like if I do better at pass blocking and running routes I can be a complete back.
If football was out of the question, what would your ideal goal be and why?
“ I want to be a probation/police officer and I want to coach. Just to be there like nobody was there for me. I didn’t have my father, my position coach was my father at the time in high school. He was always around, he was just a good dude and that was just the father figure I needed. I feel like if I stay around the kids and be around the football program I can steer some of those kids in the path I went.”
Your quarterback and teammate Devante Kincaid, may get an NFL chance, what was it like playing together?
It was good, Kincaid was a good athlete. A team player, he got us out of many tough situations, I enjoyed going to battle with him as well. As far as off the field, he was a cool kid to be around, so it made my job easier. He was just as athletic and skilled as I was, so us together was somewhat hard to defend.
Despite his efforts, Carter did not receive an invite to the NFL’s annual combine in Indianapolis last week. Nevertheless, he is a highly touted prospect who will hear his name called in April. For Carter, it is another chapter in a telling story. For the HBCU culture, it is another stride in the fight for respect and rejuvenation of black college football.