Junior linebacker Daveed Carter is no stranger to change. Born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, about 12 miles from Chicago, Carter stopped at many different schools and states before settling at Chapman. Carter hopes California will be his last stop, but there’s a lot of settling in to do first, he said.
“I love Chicago a lot,” Carter said. “I’ll say it’s the best city in the world until the day I die, but transitioning to California has made me more open-minded. I was raised in a winning culture, but here, I just want to motivate others.”
Carter’s first stop was Ohio’s University of Toledo, a Division I school. Carter dedicated himself to football and his grades started to drop during his first semester.
“I started failing a class and I wasn’t meeting the standard for the team,” Carter said. “That October, after I started, they said I couldn’t play anymore. Since I couldn’t play football, I took a look around and I realized there was nothing else to do there, so I left.”
Unsure of where he could go, Carter moved to California after his uncle suggested he check out Santa Monica College. There, Carter found the competitive atmosphere he was looking for in a football team, but he knew it was temporary.
“Since it’s a junior college, I just had this mentality of ‘get in and get out,’” Carter said. “At the time, my goal was still to get into a Division I school.”
While at Santa Monica from 2013 to 2014, Carter was approached by two Division I schools, Marshall University in West Virginia and Georgia State, but turned down both offers. He said Marshall’s offer to give him a “blue shirt” – which would sign him onto the team without allowing him to play football or enroll in classes first semester – had too many strings attached. Georgia State’s lackluster football record the previous year also made him concerned, he said.
“With offers, sometimes they tell you one thing and then you get there and it turns out to be something entirely different,” Carter said.
By this time, Carter’s hopes of joining a Division I school were dwindling. He was back home in Illinois when a friend and fellow teammate from Santa Monica, senior wide receiver Kayvan Aminzadeh, told him about Chapman.
“Back in March of this year, I wasn’t thinking about football,” Carter said. “I talked to Kayvan who had transferred to Chapman and he said to me, ‘You know, you should really think about playing again.’ I wasn’t sure, but I trusted him.”
Although playing football at Chapman may not have initially been at the forefront of Carter’s mind, he left an impression on Chapman recruiters.
“I actually saw him play when he was at Santa Monica,” said linebacker coach Bob Monk. “A few years had passed, but when I saw his tapes, I immediately remembered him. I said, ‘We have to have this guy on the team.’”
Now, Carter has high hopes for his new home in California, but admits that it will take some getting used to.
“I bounce around so much, I never truly feel settled,” said Carter. “I definitely do want to feel like I’m settled, that I’m a part of Chapman, a part of Orange, a part of southern California once again.”
The food was one of the hardest things to get used to, Carter said.
“The weirdest thing I’ve noticed about California is the salads,” Carter said. “It’s almost like an overkill of salad. There are salads out the wazoo. It’s a whole different world.”
Health trends aside, Carter said it was also difficult readjusting to life at a four-year college.
“I hadn’t been to traditional school in so long,” Carter said. “It’s not easy to get back in the groove.”
Although Carter has struggled with his academics in the past, head coach Bob Owens said he sets a strong example of a balanced student-athlete.
“I see him every day in the cubicles working on school work,” Owens said. “Other players use them occasionally, but he’s there almost every day. I think he’ll finish in the top of his class. He’s self-sufficient and he wants to take advantage of what Chapman has to offer.”
For Carter, his overall focus has changed throughout his journey. Now that he’s playing for a Division III school, his outlook has shifted, he said.
“I just want to be somebody who can lead the team – not on the field, but just in general,” Carter said. “I don’t have to make all the plays, or be (an) All-American, or All-Conference. Now, I just want to inspire others.”