Damon Floyd has seen plenty of talented football players.
He's been around the sport for much of his life, playing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and later returning to Bradley Central, his high school alma mater, where he has been the head coach for nearly two decades after first serving as an assistant.
He's also not someone who haphazardly hands out praise. But when he describes Boo Carter's ability, even the typically stoic Floyd raves.
"He's an unreal competitor and the most explosive player I've ever seen," said Floyd, who has guided the Bears to 13 straight playoff appearances. "We had scrimmages and 7-on-7 competitions against some really good players, and none of them could really match up with Boo. There were times where us coaches would talk after a scrimmage or a practice about something he did, and we'd all be like, 'I've never even seen anything like that before.'
"We've been fortunate to have some really talented players here, guys who went on to play at the next level, but I don't ever remember seeing anyone close to what Boo can do."
Carter, a consensus four-star prospect who committed to Tennessee earlier this summer, is No. 2 on this year's Times Free Press Dynamite Baker's Dozen list of the area's top 13 players. He is rated among the state's top 10 athletes by every major football recruiting service, including as the top overall player in Tennessee and No. 52 nationally by Rivals.com.
Last season, he became a Tennessee Titans Mr. Football semifinalist at Chattanooga Christian after compiling 1,478 offensive yards with 28 touchdowns and getting in on 40 tackles with four interceptions as a defensive back before leaving the program the week before the playoffs began. He transferred to Brainerd, where in basketball he helped the Panthers reach the state semifinals and finished out the school year before transferring to Bradley Central for his final prep football season.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder will get plenty of chances to showcase his ability against some of the state's best teams as the Bears will face reigning Class 2A state champion Tyner as well as Farragut, Maryville and Red Bank.
Carter, who became the Chattanooga area's first prep athlete to sign a name, image and likeness deal last December, has said he plans to graduate in December to become an early enrollee with the Volunteers. The earliest opportunity for football prospects in the class of 2024 to sign with NCAA Division I programs is Dec. 21-23.
When asked which side of the ball he preferred to play at the next level, Carter said he just wants to be put in a position to make plays and win a national championship.
"Personally, I want the ball in my hands," said Carter, who scored seven touchdowns in a win over Christian Academy of Knoxville last year. "That's how you get noticed. On defense you can get noticed, too, but with the ball in my hands, it's something special, I know that."
Contact Stephen Hargis at [email protected].