Though not at fault, Kerry Carter of Stanford agonized over a
In his mind Stanford tailback Kerry Carter knows that he's not
responsible for the fact that Curtis Williams is a quadriplegic.
In his heart he hasn't always been so sure. Last Oct. 28, on a
cold, rainy Saturday at Stanford Stadium, the 6'2", 235-pound
Carter carried the ball through the line late in the third
quarter against Washington. He dipped his right shoulder in
anticipation of a collision with the onrushing Williams, the
Huskies' 5'10", 200-pound strong safety, who lowered his head
slightly before impact. The two players hit helmet-to-helmet.
Williams flew backward, and the ligament connecting his C-1 and
C-2 vertebrae snapped. He spent four weeks in a hospital and 12
more in a rehab center, and is paralyzed from the neck down.
Carter was a factor in Williams's injury, but he didn't cause it.
Still, he had a hard time making that distinction in the weeks
that followed the incident. "Someone's life was in danger because
of something I was involved in," he says. "That in itself scared
Carter wasn't the first player last season to find himself in
such a situation. Five weeks earlier Ohio State senior tailback
Jerry Westbrooks's knee had struck the helmet of Penn State
freshman defensive back Adam Taliaferro. Westbrooks got up;
Taliaferro sustained a shattered neck bone and bruised spinal
cord. He was paralyzed from the neck down for three weeks, but is
walking again and began summer school at Penn State last week,
though his football career is over. Westbrooks, who signed as a
free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars, never blamed himself
for Taliaferro's injury. "It didn't affect me, being that it was
football," he says. "I didn't do it on purpose. If I had
intentionally tried to hurt somebody, something would be wrong
Carter, who's taking premed courses, had as much reason to be
guilt-free. "Kerry is a self-contained kid, very mature,
organized," Stanford athletic director Ted Leland says. "Kerry's
first idea is to let everybody know he is O.K., even if he
That's how Carter reacted after Williams's injury. He played well
for the remainder of the game against Washington, recovering two
onside kicks in a fourth-quarter rally before the Cardinal lost
31-28. On the ensuing Monday, as Williams lay sedated at Stanford
Hospital, Cardinal running backs coach Buzz Preston called Carter
to his office. "I knew he was going to struggle with it," Preston
says. "He's a sensitive and caring person."
Carter, who will be a junior next fall, is also tough to tackle.
Though he didn't start a game last season, he led Stanford in
rushing with 729 yards and scored six touchdowns. "He's a load
running through there," says Preston. "He gets his momentum
going....I told Kerry, 'You can't worry about it. That's not
your fault.' But it did affect his aggressiveness. He started
trying to avoid tacklers rather than hit them. His production was
off and on the remainder of the season."
When Preston reminded Carter to run north-south during spring
practice, they both knew the subtext. "Inches decide stuff like
that," Carter says of Williams's injury. "That's what helped me
come to terms with it. Things could have been the other way
around. It was a freak accident. Look at the number of times when
players collide and nothing happens."
While in high school Carter worked in a hospital, where he
learned that doctors must remain detached from the suffering they
see. After his collision with Williams, he understood why.
LSU's Jamaican Quarterback
How the West Could Be Won
For Rohan Davey, a native of Jamaica who moved to Miami when he
was eight and didn't play football until his sophomore year of
high school, being in position to lead LSU to its first outright
SEC title in 15 years is quite an accomplishment. Davey, a
fifth-year senior who'll replace all-conference quarterback Josh
Booty, will use his considerable talent--plus the help of 17
returning starters--to try to match the exploits of Tennessee's
Tee Martin, who led the 1998 Volunteers to the SEC crown, en
route to the national title, after replacing all-conference
quarterback Peyton Manning.
For LSU to win the title--it's the favorite in the SEC West--the
6'3", 239-pound Davey must stay healthy. In February 2000 he tore
his left ACL playing basketball and missed spring practice. He
began last season behind Booty on the depth chart but replaced
him in Week 5, against Tennessee, after the Tigers had suffered
consecutive losses, to Auburn and Alabama-Birmingham. Against the
Vols, Davey completed 23 of 35 passes for 318 yards and four
touchdowns to spark a 38-31 upset. The following week he
aggravated a sprained right ankle in the first half of a 41-9
loss to Florida, and by the time he recuperated Booty was on a
Davey didn't play again until the Peach Bowl, in which once more
he capitalized on an opportunity. With LSU trailing Georgia Tech
14-3 at halftime, he replaced Booty and completed 17 of 25 passes
for 174 yards and three touchdowns for a 28-14 victory. Booty,
who had announced in mid-December that he would return for his
senior season, changed his mind after that game and made himself
available for the NFL draft because he figured he wouldn't be the
starter this season. (The Seattle Seahawks selected him in the
That leaves Davey, who has only four starts under his belt, as
the only LSU quarterback who has taken a snap in college. He's
well aware that as he goes, so go the Tigers.
COLOR PHOTO: DAVID GONZALES A punishing runner by nature, Carter played less aggressively after Williams was paralyzed.
COLOR PHOTO: SCOTT HALLERAN/ALLSPORT Davey hopes to pick up where he left off in LSU's Peach Bowl win.
Whether redshirt freshman Chris Rix or junior wide receiver
Anquan Boldin becomes Florida State's new quarterback, the
Seminoles will have an inexperienced passer in a complex system.
So coach Bobby Bowden is thinking about installing an option
package, and to that end sent his offensive staff to Virginia
Tech in April to look at the run-or-pass system that the Hokies
devised for Michael Vick....
Tennessee should weather the loss of All-SEC freshman tackle
Michael Munoz, who underwent surgery on his left knee last week
and will redshirt next fall. Junior Anthony Herrera, the best
athlete on the Volunteers' offensive line, shifted from guard to
tackle in spring practice in case Munoz wouldn't be available
for the season. Junior backup Will Ofenheusle is expected to
There's sentiment within Conference USA to make Navy its 12th
football member, then split into two divisions and add a
playoff. The school remains uninterested. Selling tickets and
playing before its fans around the country make its current
national schedule (Georgia Tech, Northwestern and Notre Dame
this season) more attractive to Navy than playing Cincinnati and
Rutgers starting center Jeremy Womack shocked new coach Greg
Schiano last month by announcing that he was leaving the team.
Womack, who earned a degree in finance this spring, is teaming
with former Rutgers defensive back Garrett Shea and Amanda
Phillips, a javelin and discus thrower for the Scarlet Knights,
to start a website devoted mainly to bringing lesser-known high
school prospects to the attention of college coaches.