PITTSBURGH — In 2018, V’lique Carter was something of a secret weapon for Pitt’s offense after moving from cornerback to receiver mid-year.
Now he’s bringing a unique combination of skills to Pitt’s running backs room that the Panthers have not had in the past.
Carter, a sophomore from West Palm Beach, Florida, broke onto the scene last year, mid-way through the season with his dazzling jet sweeps. In total for the 2018 season, Carter played in seven games, compiling 202 rushing yards on 25 carries, and added three catches for nine yards.
Carter’s combination of a short stature and unparalleled speed will bring a new element to Pitt’s offensive backfield. Compared to last year’s duo of Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall, who were known for their strength and ability to find an opening, Carter presents a new wrinkle that the Pitt running back room will be seeing most likely for the first time in a long time.
“He’s fast, he’s quick, he’s twitchy,” running backs coach Andre Powell said after spring practice on Tuesday. “Thats something you cannot coach. You always look for guys that possess things that you cannot coach. You certainly cant coach speed and being twitchy.”
After making the transition from wide receiver to running back during the offseason, Carter acknowledged that the move was “overwhelming”. Learning a new position will always be tough at first and Powell believes that Carter is starting to acclimate to the new position, but he is also cognizant that it is going to take some time.
“He is getting better,” Powell said. “He took a good jump today (Tuesday). He was a kid that we recruited to be a defensive back and we discovered that he could really run. Going from offense to offense is one thing, but going from defense to offense is a totally different deal. He is a little man, he is fast, he’s got talent. It’s going to take some time. He probably won’t win the Heisman this year, but we will get a lot of mileage out of him and he will continue to get better.”
Carter comes into the year sharing the backfield with junior A.J. Davis and redshirt sophomore Todd Sibley, who both have little playing experience. However, being the youngest of the group, Carter is looking up to those two as the leaders of the running back room and has learned many things from them.
“They have taught me a lot,” Carter said. “Just to stay low and trying to read. We have been working overtime to just know everything.”
After being a key contributor during the second half of the 2018 season, Carter learned a lot of things that he will now carry into the 2019 season.
“I learned to be a team player, it is not all about yourself,” he said. “Just be a team player and learn from others and just communicate. It is all about communication.”
It will be interesting to see during the 2019 season how Pitt decides to utilize Carter’s speed out of the backfield.