Texas football adds experience up front in transfer DL Trill Carter

Texas football nabbed its first addition out of the NCAA Transfer Portal since the conclusion of spring ball early this week in the former Minnesota Golden Gophers senior grad transfer defensive lineman Trill Carter. The All-Big Ten Honorable Mention and 6-foot-2 and 310-pound interior defensive lineman Carter announced his commitment to Texas out of the portal on the afternoon of April 17.

Carter’s commitment to Texas comes a little less than one week after he took a multi-day visit to Austin, from April 11-13. His trip to Texas last week made quite the impression on the Minnesota grad transfer. Inside Texas reported that Carter stated after the visit to Austin last week that “I think I can really help in Austin”.

Immediately following the conclusion of that visit to Austin last week, Carter also stated “I loved my visit” and that “it’s like a family atmosphere in Austin”.

Defensive line coach Bo Davis and the Longhorns did a nice job with this portal recruitment in the last couple of weeks. Davis gave Carter a good selling point that he could be a proven commodity that makes an impact on an already stout top group of interior defensive linemen in this rotation up front in 2023.

Carter wound up choosing the Longhorns early this week over other schools that he visited in the last couple of weeks such as the Illinois Fighting Illini, Arkansas Razorbacks, and Ohio State Buckeyes.

Texas football picks up proven DL experience in Minnesota transfer Trill Carter

The Georgia native Carter spent four years at Minnesota, where he took nearly 1,200 defensive snaps in his collegiate career to date. Carter originally committed to Minnesota as an under-recruited three-star defensive tackle out of Lee County High School in Leesburg, GA, in the Golden Gophers 2019 class over offers from the Indiana Hoosiers, North Carolina Tar Heels, South Carolina Gamecocks, and Arkansas.

During his four seasons at Minnesota, Carter registered nearly 60 combined tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, one interception, three batted balls, 30 quarterback pressures, 38 defensive stops, and a dozen missed tackles. Carter was most productive as a starting interior defensive lineman for Minnesota in the last two seasons where he racked up 39 combined tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and two-dozen quarterback pressures.

Carter will arrive on the Forty Acres this offseason with two years of eligibility remaining, including the COVID-19 redshirt year.

How Carter fits at Texas

Texas nabbed Carter out of the portal this spring to fill a very specific role along the interior defensive line. Carter was brought in to sure up depth up front for the Longhorns given the lack of proven production behind the top interior defensive line trio of redshirt senior T’Vondre Sweat, junior Byron Murphy II, and senior Alfred Collins.

Behind that aforementioned top IDL trio of Sweat, Murphy, and Collins, Texas is lacking proven producers, especially in run defense. Carter gives the Longhorns a fourth proven defensive lineman that can come in in short-yardage situations and non-passing downs.

Carter is likely going to play most of his snaps this fall out of the three-technique along the defensive line. That is where he got most of his defensive reps on running plays in the last two seasons at Minnesota.

In fact, Carter led the Big Ten among interior defensive linemen in run snaps out of the three-tech since the start of the 2021 season (nearly 300). Playing out of the three-tech in run defense, Carter registered a half-dozen tackles for loss and a whopping 25 run stops since the start of the 2021 campaign. All the while, he only missed three tackles.

Carter ranked in the top five in the Big Ten since the start of the 2021 season in all of the aforementioned stat categories in run defense out of the three-tech.

Why Carter was so consistent in run defense at Minnesota was the fact that he plays with good pad level and has excellent size to use as leverage at the point of attack. Carter also has a good motor and gets off the line of scrimmage quickly, which makes for a formidable presence up front when you consider that Carter is playing at 310 pounds.

However, I will mention that there is a ceiling on the impact that Carter can have on Texas’ front seven in run defense. While Carter is an effective and consistent interior run defender with a lot of snaps under his belt in his collegiate career thus far, he isn’t the most fleet-of-foot defensive lineman you’ll ever see and his overall athleticism is average to above average at best.

Carter also isn’t the longest athlete you’ll see along the defensive front for the Longhorns. Standing at 6-foot-2 in cleats, and with a shorter wingspan compared to the other core Texas interior defensive linemen on the roster this year, Carter isn’t very rangy up either.

Carter will be limited as an interior pass rusher

The biggest strength that Carter brings to the table definitely comes in run defense. He’s a more consistent and productive interior defender on run plays than he is rushing the passer up the middle or on stunt blitzes.

Carter’s limited length and overall athleticism allow some of the more sizable and skilled interior offensive linemen to get the edge in one-on-one matchups and move him off the ball at times.

However, what Carter does well as an interior pass rusher is that he can assume a lot of space and hold his gaps. As I mentioned before when talking about his skills in run defense, Carter plays with good pad leverage and has good burst off the line of scrimmage.

He’s also pretty good and reading and reacting to plays in a short span of time for an interior defensive lineman. Carter’s anticipation and burst do allow him to get a jump on obvious passing downs and become a disruptive force in the pocket for opposing quarterbacks.

Carter put his ability to get off the line of scrimmage quickly while getting a fast read on the play quite a few times in the last couple of seasons at Minnesota. He nabbed one interception and three pass breakups as an interior pass rusher along the defensive line in the last two seasons.

It’s also worth noting that Carter had to earn the three sacks he registered since 2021. None of the three sacks he put up in the last two seasons were unblocked.

All in All, I don’t think that Texas is going to be relying on Carter as their first option too often in obvious pass-rushing situations. Texas has three or four interior defensive linemen on the current roster that are more adept at rushing the passer than Carter such as Murphy, Sweat, Collins, and even junior Vernon Broughton (his specialty is getting after the quarterback).

The purpose of bringing in Carter is pretty clear, Davis and the Longhorns want more proven depth up front that can primarily boost the strength of the run defense this fall. Texas lost key interior run defenders this offseason such as seniors Moro Ojomo and Keondre Coburn.

The addition of Carter does something similar to what Texas wanted in the pick-up of former JMU linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey last offseason. DTD helped sure up the depth at the linebacker position as someone that could round out the rotation alongside Jaylan Ford and DeMarvion Overshown.

Carter helps solidify the two-deep along the interior defensive line, along with the addition of true freshman nose tackle Sydir Mitchell, ahead of the 2023 season. And if Carter ultimately decides to stick around for the 2024 campaign, which would put the final year of his collegiate eligibility to use, he would give Davis and the Longhorns some valuable experience and stability along the interior defensive line upon the move from the Big 12 to the SEC.

Carter is the first portal addition of the spring and the fifth of the offseason in total for head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns. Texas fans should be on the lookout for Texas to add at least one more portal player at a position of need post-spring after the staff picked up Carter on April 17.