Before a small cadre of students, coaches and media, and flanked by his parents, Abel Carter announced on Thursday he would be attending Washington State University on a baseball scholarship next fall.
Carter actually signed his official national letter of intent with WSU several days after Carson was eliminated in the football playoffs by Reno, but because of the recent auto wreck that claimed the life of a classmate, school officials delayed the signing ceremony at the school.
Carter, the youngest of eight kids, is the sixth member of the family to play a sport in college. Josh went to Wake Forest on a track scholarship, Paul went to William Penn for wrestling, Luke played one season of football at Malone College in Ohio, Asa is a sophomore football/track athlete at Southwest Baptist and Caleb went to Iowa Western Community College for cross country and track.
Despite rushing for nearly 4,400 yards and 48 TDs in three seasons, Carter had just one Division I football offer, and that was from the Naval Academy. He had several other offers from Division II schools, including Southwest Baptist, where he was offered the chance to play two sports.
At WSU, he will join former Carson High teammate Bryce Moyle, who’s a freshman. The Cougars were the only D-1 baseball program to offer a scholarship.
“It (Washington State) is a Division I school; a very good school,” Carter said. “The coaches are great, and they do a lot of great stuff. I’ll definitely miss football. I’ve been playing football since I was 5 years old. It will be hard not playing.
“I’ve always wanted to go to college for a sport. I want to do something in education or sports medicine.”
The Cougars are happy to have him.
“Abel might be as good of athlete as we have signed in a long time,” WSU coach Marty Lees said when he announced the signing class recently. “He has the speed, strength, toughness, and his ability to hit will give him a chance to play right away. He plays third base but could move to any outfield spot because of his athleticism.”
Carter drew the attention of a coach in the Boise area who knew the Washington State coaches.
“One of the coaches asked me if he could call Washington State on Abel’s behalf,” CHS coach Bryan Manoukian said. “They got on him early.”
Lees, in fact, came out and watched Carter play during the summer.
It’s probably the wisest choice, as baseball offers him a chance to play beyond the college level, and Manoukian said it’s possible Carter could be drafted this spring if he has a good season.
“I don’t think there is a ceiling,” Manoukian said recently. “He has a lot of upside, and he hasn’t reached his max (potential).”
Carter has arguably been Carson’s best baseball player the past two seasons. He was called up to varsity as a freshman, and he went 3-for-8, including a single to beat Damonte Ranch. In the last two seasons, he’s hit .404 and .342 with a combined six homers and 33 RBI.
“He has been the best athlete ever to play in this program since I’ve been here,” Manoukian said. “He is the best defensive third baseman we’ve had. He is the best position player I’ve ever coached.
“He already has the size and speed of a college baseball player. I think he can go in there and compete for time as a freshman. He doesn’t need a redshirt season to get bigger and stronger.”
Manoukian agreed offense will get Carter on the field sooner, and he has constantly been working on that.
“We have been working on making consistent contact in the zone where Abel can create the most backspin and really drive the ball,” Manoukian said. “He needs to let the ball get to that point and stay connected longer.’’
Carter said he’s focusing more on fielding and throwing. He had some errant throws last season because he wasn’t following through correctly.
As the festivities broke up, all of Carter’s past and current coaches, including football coach Blair Roman and wrestling coach Nick Redwine, came up and gave Carter a hug.
Roman said he is still bummed that more Division I schools failed to offer Carter a scholarship.
“Abel deserves everything he’s ever gotten,” Roman said. “He is one of those rare athletes. You could see right away. This is a great opportunity for him.”