Familiar Faces Unite in New Places
Not too bad for guys that both played offense in high school.
For Carter, the position of choice was quarterback. When he went to college at Arkansas, Carter switched to defensive back, his current position of choice. He transferred to Southern Arkansas in his senior year (1998), where he was used all over the field on offense, defense, and special teams. This year of experience was valuable for the Ironman game that is the AFL. In 2001, Carter began his career as a jack-of-all-trades for the Milwaukee Mustangs. Carter even got a chance to use his quarterbacking skills in Milwaukee, throwing four passes in the season, two of which went for touchdowns. The stop in 2002 for Carter was Toronto, with the Phantoms. After the season, he was selected in the dispersal draft by the Tampa Bay Storm, but never played a game with the team. 2003 was perhaps the crowning year in Carterís career, as he returned to his home in Arkansas and won the af2 Defensive Player of the Year crown with the Arkansas Twisters.
Meanwhile in Minnesota, a young wide receiver by the name of Jermaine Mays was traveling a similar path. After being a special teams player for 4 years as a Minnesota Golden Gopher, Mays was invited to Minnesota Vikings camp in 2003. He earned a spot on the practice squad, but never did play a game in the NFL. In 2004, he was allocated by the Vikings to the Berlin Thunder to learn how to play defensive back. In a short time at the position, Mays became a pivotal part of the Thunderís championship run.
One of the teams that Berlin had to finish on top of to win the championship was the Scottish Claymores. Why is that important? The Buffalo Bills took notice of Carterís outstanding season as a defensive back in the af2 and decided to give him a chance in camp. He, too was allocated to Europe, and was the key player in the Claymores secondary.
Mays tried again to latch on with an NFL team, this time in Indianapolis Colts camp, but ended up spending another year in NFL Europe. Carter returned to the AFL to play with the expansion Nashville Kats. He quickly became one of the leagueís best defensive threats once again, as he racked up a career best 7 INTs for the Kats in 2005. While waiting for the next AFL season to begin, Carter was approached by the Toronto Argonauts to fill in a hole in their secondary late in the season. He headed up to Toronto, but only played in 1 game for the Argos last season.
That set the stage for 2006. While Carter had resigned with the Kats for their 2nd season, Mays was given a chance to play in the AFL by Coach Gruden and the Predators. The players crossed paths once again with their trade in March, and both had successful campaigns with their respective teams.
Though the roads sounded awfully similar for these two players, they never got to play on the same team until this CFL season. Mays decided to follow in Carterís footsteps and fine tune his skills at defensive back further by playing in the CFL. The Toronto Argonauts gave him a contract and brought him into training camp right when the Kats season ended against the eventual champions, the Chicago Rush. Carter returned to Toronto as well, though he was late for the season starting because of the Predators run to the Arena Bowl and has only played in 2 of the 5 games for the Argonauts. They join Tampa Bay Storm DS Jeff Sanchez in the Argonaut secondary.
Now Mays and Carter are roommates and the best of friends. Having traveled very similar paths to get where they are as football players, the match is perfect. Mays has quickly risen up the Argonauts depth chart to the 3rd defensive back, while Carter remains the teamís 5th option. The defense ranks #2 in the CFL, allowing just 21.7 points per game. Perhaps itís no coincidence that they both played on two of the best defenses in the AFL as well.
While listening to the Argonauts take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders last weekend, I noted one of those short sideline stories that are told between plays on Mays and Carter. The two were out shopping for shoes, of all things, the day before the game. They brought their AFL shoes with them to play on the Astroturf of the Rogers Centre in Toronto, but werenít prepared for the synthetic turf in Saskatchewan. The comment that Mays made about the whole thing? "Iím never throwing out those AFL shoes, though."
Though we know that Kahlil Carter will be back with the Orlando Predators in the 2007 season, Mays is a free agent that will surely be snatched up by someone before the season starts. Donít be surprised to see the journeymen be roommates once again in the black and red in 2007.
Adam Markowitz is an accountant and a freelance sports writer living in Orlando. As a Florida State graduate with degrees in music and history, the garnet and gold will forever be a part of him, but he bleeds the black and red of the Orlando Predators like none other. Adam has been following the AFL since 1991 and has been at well over 200 games, including 16 ArenaBowls. You can follow Adam on Twitter @AFLGuru.