Familiar faces pulling safety Amari Carter to Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Amari Carter had an important question to ask his former teammate.

He shipped off a text message to Devin Studstill to see if he was returning home for prom.

Last fall, the two were roaming the secondary for Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High. Now with Studstill already enrolled as a freshman at Notre Dame, the two have different priorities. Carter’s friend didn’t have time for one of the staples of the high school experience.

Studstill was a little busy working with the No. 1 defense for the Irish this spring. Unlike his absence for prom, Studstill’s climb up Notre Dame’s depth chart didn’t surprise Carter at all.

“I wouldn't have expected anything less,” Carter said. “I know what he's capable of."

In June, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Carter plans to see Studstill in person at Notre Dame when he visits for the Irish Invasion. A three-star safety recruit himself, Carter could set up a reunion in the Irish secondary. Notre Dame linebacker Te’von Coney also attended Palm Beach Gardens.

“Everyone has been telling me great things about Notre Dame — the institution, the whole environment, where it’s located in South Bend,” Carter said. “I’ve only heard great things, and I would like to experience these things at Irish Invasion.”

Carter became the latest Palm Beach Gardens Gator to receive a Notre Dame scholarship offer in February. Fellow junior Vandarius Cowan has long been an Irish target as well, but the defensive end flipped his commitment from Florida State to Alabama in April.

Carter and Cowan have drawn a slew of college coaches to Palm Beach Gardens during the evaluation period. Earlier this week, four or five coaches stopped by the school while Carter was taking his AP Environmental Science test. Ten coaches put Palm Beach Gardens on their itineraries Monday.

“Just about every day, we'll have an influx of coaches coming in,” Carter said. “That's something the players look forward to. It's exciting, especially with the younger players who haven't had the opportunity to talk with the coaches.”

Coaches aren’t allowed to have discussions with the players in person, but phone calls usually follow the visits. Relationships start to build with coaches who can find a connection. Notre Dame running backs coach Autry Denson has been able to relate with Carter as a fellow Florida native. That has opened the door to many conversations between the two.

“He doesn't just talk about football. He's talking about your well-being and everything,” Carter said. “My first impression of him was he's a great person. He cares about the whole person, not just the athletic part about you. He cares about not just me but my family and everything. He's very informative."

Irish defensive backs coach Todd Lyght visited Palm Beach Gardens on Monday.

“He had nothing but positive things to say about what he saw from my practice,” Carter said. “He said that I would be a perfect fit for the Notre Dame program."

Carter tallied 60 tackles, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and two blocked kicks during his junior season. He returned two of those interceptions for touchdowns and scored three more times on offense.

Rivals ranks Carter as the No. 35 safety in the 2017 class. 247Sports slates him No. 53 at the position.

Notre Dame and Miami have emerged as two of Carter’s favorites early in the recruiting process. The Hurricanes have already hosted Carter multiple times this spring. A three-mile drive separates Miami’s campus and Palm Beach Gardens High.

“I have the ability to go down there basically whenever I want,” Carter said. “I have been on campus plenty of times already. That's an advantage, but I'm hoping to get out to more schools here in the near future so I can compare them.”

Clemson, LSU, Duke and North Carolina are among the list of schools Carter could visit in the future. Carter plans to enroll at the college of his choice in January, so a decision could come before his senior season.

But the only trip Carter has scheduled at this point is to Notre Dame. Plane tickets have already been purchased. Soon he’ll be able to see the path that led his former teammates to South Bend.

“I wouldn't say it created why I like Notre Dame, but it was a reason to add on,” Carter said of his connection to the Irish. “They have only told me good things about the program and everything. I really enjoyed playing with them, so it could be something to look forward to."

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Palm Beach Gardens junior Amari Carter (5) attempts to tackle Seminole Ridge sophomore Justin Allie (1). Carter plans to visit Notre Dame for the Irish Invasion. (Photo courtesy of The Palm Beach Post/Madeline Gray)