Both franchises drafted a running back out of North Carolina in 2021 and the former Tar Heels were quite the combination in college. Jets’ Michael Carter and Broncos’ Javonte Williams combined for 2,385 rushing yards in 2020 and 2,957 scrimmage yards.
The pair was lethal together on the field, but they were also brothers off it.
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Playing With Williams Was ‘Opportunity of a Lifetime’
During an interview with New York Daily News reporter DJ Bien-Aime, Carter spoke about playing alongside Williams in college and their relationship after they graduated.
“It was an opportunity of a lifetime, because not a lot of guys can really say that they played with a player like Javonte. I think it’s amazing, some of the stuff that we did. We text almost every day and we just look back sometimes like, ‘what was that like?’ But it was so good for us because no matter what we go through it’s like we both have that confidence to know that we competed with each other. And we both made a shake. I got a lot of love for Javonte. We never argued about touches, carries, we didn’t care, we just wanted to win.”
Despite being drafted much lower than his UNC teammate, Carter actually outperformed Williams in 2019 with 1,003 rushing yards compared to 933, and 2020 with 1,245 compared to 1,140. The Broncos selected their RB in the second round, however, while the Jets got ‘MC’ in the fourth.
At the NFL level, Williams has 109 rush yards through two games off 27 attempts. Carter has only received 15 hand-offs, running for 65 yards. The Jets RB also has three catches for 43 receiving yards while the Broncos second-rounder only has six receiving yards so far.
“I love [Williams] so much,” Carter told the media on September 22, “I called him last night, I talk to him probably every day, probably every two days just to check in on him [and] he checks in on me.”
He continued: “It’s a weird experience because I’ve always been on his team and I know what kind of player he is, so that’s my dog but I know that this week he’s my opponent. I don’t play defense, so we’re just going to try and get the win, the defense knows what they got to do… as good as Javonte is it does take 11, so I’m excited to see him play this weekend and I’m excited to go out to Denver and see if we can grab a win.”
In terms of an insider scouting report, Carter responded that his running style is pretty obvious on film, calling him a “tough runner” that breaks tackles.
“I think it’s always been [that] the competition made us closer,” Carter concluded on Williams, “we know that we can both be great and I told him when [he was a freshman], I was like, dude you can be a first-round pick.”
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Carter Was ‘Electric’ in Week 2
That humble mentality has helped the Jets running back as he’s entered an even bigger rotation at the pro-level. Ty Johnson and Tevin Coleman have split carries with Carter during the first two weeks of action but 2020 draft pick La’Mical Perine could reenter the fold once healthy.
The rookie hasn’t let the competition get to him though. After all, he’s used to it from his time with Williams.
Carter has begun to establish himself as the lead-back after a productive performance as a runner and a receiver against the New England Patriots. Head coach Robert Saleh called the Week 2 outing “electric” in a press conference on September 20.
The former Tar Heel wasn’t satisfied though; “I think there’s more, I left a lot out there, I think the difference between good and great is so small and I feel like it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t do it again.”
Carter will have another opportunity in Week 3, as he continues to prove that he was deserving of a second-round pick like his college running mate, Williams.