Kailon Carter learned a lot from an early exit at Navarro College.
He played just four games in 2013, then the following spring was suspended for what he said was missing some team meetings before taking the 2014 season as a redshirt year.
Carter went looking for a new start and his second chance came at Fresno City College.
He appears to have found the spot that he needed and one that needed him. He has been a key contributor for the NorCal sixth-ranked Rams, who are 4-2 overall and 1-0 in the Valley Conference entering Saturday’s game at No. 7 Chabot (4-2, 1-0) in Hayward.
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Kickoff is 6:30 p.m.
Through six games, Carter has team-leading totals of 688 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
“I had to grow from that,” Carter said of his difficulties at Navarro, a two-year college in Corsicana, Texas. “It was a mistake I made and I put it behind me and became a better person from it.”
Carter said missing a season helped him refocus on his future.
“It brought back me back to reality,” he said. “It humbled me as a person and it showed me that everybody is replaceable no matter what kind of plays you’re making on the field. Everybody is replaceable, and you have to do the right things on and off the field. Everything that I do I have to put an effort into it so I can get the best out of it. It refocused me and motivated me.”
Carter got off to a good start at Navarro. He had two receptions for 82 yards in a 76-26 victory over Arkansas Baptist, but had totaled just 144 yards at the time of his suspension.
The 6-foot-2, 203-pounder from Boutte, La., started a little slower with the Rams. He had two catches for 29 yards in the season opener at De Anza and also lost a fumble. But in Week 2, he broke out with a 12-reception, 125-yard day against Sierra.
“We’ve had a real good tradition of receivers here at Fresno City College,” coach Tony Caviglia said. “We’ve had some tall ones and fast ones. With Kailon it’s a combination of both of those: he’s got some great length and he's extremely fast. Put those two things together you got yourself a pretty good threat.”
It helps when you have a consistent quarterback and some support on the other side of the formation. Christian Rossi has been the unquestioned starter behind center after sharing duties last year; and sophomore James Whitfield’s 28 receptions, 386 yards and two TDs are a sign that defenses can’t focus just on shutting down Carter.
“Kailon Carter, he’s great,” said Rossi, who is 130 of 198 for 1,677 yards and 18 touchdowns. “He has size, speed, hands. He’s physical. Who wouldn’t want him? From what I’ve seen, I don’t know which school (at the next level) wouldn’t want him as their receiver.”
Carter said he was being recruited by Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Miami and Texas A&M out of Hahnville High in Boutte but couldn’t get to a four-year school because of his grades.
“Big downfall for me,” he said. “That’s what really held me back.”
Carter dreams of eventually making it to the NFL. He is the nephew of free agent fullback Quinn Johnson (who won a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers in 2010) and a cousin of Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Tyson Jackson.
But first comes NCAA Division I ball and before that, helping the Rams reach the postseason.
“Just to stay humble and to work harder every day,” he said of his immediate goals. “As a team, we want to play for a state championship, and I think we can do that.”
Reunion day – Caviglia looks to remain perfect against the team he coached for three seasons. Since taking over at Fresno City, Caviglia is 4-0 against the Gladiators.
“We’re expecting them to play extremely well at home,” he said. “They’re very talented and deep … very much a veteran squad. We don’t think they played their best last year against us and we’re expecting them to play a lot better this year.”
The Rams defeated Chabot last season 49-21. Jose Ferreira passed for three touchdowns in that game and is back for his sophomore year, going 67 for 102 for 770 yards with seven TDs and three interceptions this season.
Et cetera – After opening with four straight wins, then being blown out in two straight, No. 10 Sequoias will try to rebound against 14th-ranked Delta at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Giants (4-2, 0-1) have been outscored 100-0 in their past two games and have lost 15 of 16 in the Valley Conference since 2012.
▪ West Hills, ranked No. 4 in NorCal among the lower-tier American Division teams, looks for its fifth straight win as it faces No. 10 Mendocino (2-4) at 1 p.m. Saturday in a nonconference game. The Falcons (5-1) defeated Reedley 25-23 on Oct. 17, scoring 19 points in the third quarter to pull away. West Hills’ Cort Groathouse was 17 of 29 for 191 yards and three touchdowns.
▪ American Divison sixth-ranked Reedley has dropped two straight. The Tigers (3-3, 1-1) face Cabrillo (1-5, 0-3), losers of four in a row, in a Golden Coast Conference game at 6 p.m. Saturday. Austin Bray is 104 of 200 for 1,400 yards and 17 TDs.
- Mendocino (2-4) at West Hills (5-1), 1 p.m.
- Reedley (3-3, 1-1 Golden Coast) at Cabrillo (1-5, 0-3), 6 p.m.
- Fresno City (4-2, 1-0 Valley) at Chabot (4-2, 1-0), 6:30 p.m.
- Delta (2-4, 0-1) at Sequoias (4-2, 0-1), 7 p.m.
FRESNO CITY SCORES, SCHEDULE
at De Anza
W, 42-41 (OT)
vs. San Francisco
vs. San Joaquin Delta
VALLEY CONFERENCE STANDINGS
San Joaquin Delta
Modesto at Laney, 7 p.m.
Fresno City at Chabot, 6:30 p.m.
Delta at Sequoias, 7 p.m.