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CU Buffs’ Drew Carter gearing up for fall competition

Quarterback played in six games last season as backup

CORRECTED CAPTION BOULDER, CO - AUGUST 14:University of Colorado Boulder Quarterback Drew Carter (No. 9) makes a handoff to  Tailback Deion Smith (No. 20) during a scrimmage at Folsom Field in Boulder on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
CORRECTED CAPTION BOULDER, CO – AUGUST 14:University of Colorado Boulder Quarterback Drew Carter (No. 9) makes a handoff to Tailback Deion Smith (No. 20) during a scrimmage at Folsom Field in Boulder on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

Throughout the spring, incumbent starter Brendon Lewis took the first-team reps at quarterback for the Colorado Buffaloes.

Junior JT Shrout, although limited as he recovered from a knee injury, was in the spotlight as the main competitor for the starting job.

Meanwhile, Drew Carter continues his own work as he strives to get on the field.

“I just try to control what I can control and get better each and every day,” the true sophomore said. “I try to focus on two things to get better on (every day). I don’t really see it as a competition. I mean, I’m definitely competing against them but my biggest competition is myself.”

BOULDER, CO - April 2021: Colorado quarterback Drew Carter during University of Colorado football practice. (University of Colorado Athletics)
BOULDER, CO – April 2021: Colorado quarterback Drew Carter during University of Colorado football practice. (University of Colorado Athletics)

With Shrout injured, Carter went through last season as the No. 2 quarterback for the Buffs. He played in six games, but despite the offense struggling all season, he took only 31 snaps. Carter threw 12 passes – 8 of those in a Week 3 game against Minnesota – and either handed the ball off or took a knee 16 times. Overall, he was 5-for-12 for 35 yards.

“A little bit (frustrating),” he said of last season. “I mean, it would be frustrating for anyone, but I just tried to control what I control.”

Carter threw for 6,955 yards and 54 touchdowns during his three-year career at Tigard (Ore.) High School, but didn’t get a senior year in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He then graduated early and enrolled at CU in January of 2021.

Despite his lack of playing time last year, Carter said he felt prepared if needed.

“For sure I think I was ready for it,” he said. “I know the team believes in me if I got in there, and I trust in them. I wasn’t worried at all.

“I learned a lot. I learned that I definitely have to always stay ready. Anything can happen.”

Although he was ready last year, Carter felt even better as the Buffs wrapped up spring practices last month. He’s improved his game, but also believes that a brief stint on the CU basketball team helped.

A two-sport star at Tigard, Carter had opportunities to play basketball on scholarship in college before choosing to play football for the Buffs. He always had a plan of playing both sports, though.

CU’s football schedule, including the offseason program, didn’t allow Carter to spend the entire season with coach Tad Boyle’s basketball team, but he was with the Buffs for a few weeks. Carter never got into a game, but it is his first time on a basketball team in nearly two years after he didn’t get a senior season at Tigard.

“It was so much fun,” he said. “The guys are great. They accepted me with open arms. Every single one of them are super nice guys; I love the coaching staff and it was great to be a part of that team.

“I grew up playing two sports my whole life, so I kind of need the switch up, per se. So it felt good to get out there on the basketball court, but I’m happy to be back here for football.”

In fact, he felt energized in returning to the gridiron because of his time with the basketball team.

“I think I was ready to come back to football,” he said. “I came in with a more positive attitude with football. It was a good mental reset.”

Carter carried that positive attitude through the spring as he worked on his craft. Carter said he enjoys working with new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford and he came away from spring feeling confident in his game.

“I feel a lot better,” he said. “I think I’ve matured mentally as a player and I’ve taken a different approach into coming into a new offense. … I think I just have a better understanding of football.”

As Carter prepares for next season, however, he has more competition than last year. Lewis is back, Shrout is healthy and the Buffs added Houston transfer Maddox Kopp over the winter. This summer, true freshman Owen McCown will join the group.

Like last year, Carter said he’s ready to compete.

“It definitely raises the stakes a little bit more,” he said. “There’s more high-pressure situations because you’ve got to compete. It’s also good because we kind of feed off each other, we learn from each other and are able to talk to each other.”

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