The second-year quarterback from the Los Angeles area projects as a defensive back or perhaps a slot at the next level. He even earned an invite to the prestigious Top Gun camp in Paisley, Fla., this past July.
As a junior, he won his team's offensive MVP award and earned first-team all-league and second-team All-CIF honors, and he followed that up with a gaudy senior campaign. All told this past year, he threw for nearly 2,500 yards and 27 touchdowns, adding 12 tackles and three interceptions on defense.
But Carter, a solid 6-footer and nearly 200 pounds, is defined by more than just his stats on the field. His resume off the field includes a 3.3 GPA, consistent honor-roll recognition and a student-athlete award.
Truth be told, this kid is wise beyond his years.
When he was a freshman, Carter was shown the ropes on and off the field by several upperclassmen who provided a big brother relationship for him. Raised by a single mother,
Tika recalls taking her son to work at Sony Pictures when he was in elementary school and how he used the walk to halls of her office and interact with her coworkers. One coworker,
"Pay it forward is the idea that you invest in someone with your time and energy," Carter said. "They in turn will invest themselves into others, they in turn 'pay it forward.' It's how I try to live my life."
And this idea led Carter to start the Pay It Forward: Mentorship Movement, which will officially began this spring after more then a year of groundwork. Designed to replicate the mentorship he received when he was a freshman, the group will provide freshman athletes with mentors and positive role models from Culver City's varsity team. Budgetary issues prevented the group from launching this past fall, but it is a legacy he hopes to leave behind at Culver. Carter dislikes clicks and hopes the group will help others avoid pitfalls in their high school careers.
"I'm proof that you can be who you are and not conform to something because a group of people say so," Carter said. "I'm not the typical jock, I've been a scholastic athlete my whole career here."
But don't relegate Carter to just a dreamer or a hopeless visionary -- he's a young man who rolls up his sleeves in the community as well. This past summer, in between working out with his teammates and helping his mom at home, Carter tutored a young man in the neighborhood in Japanese. That's right: Japanese. Carter is so fluent -- he chose the language because he felt it provided him with a "challenge" -- that he served as a translator for his grandfather several years ago. A jazz musician who uses his music as a ministry, Carter's grandfather took Marquel to Japan and the football player served as a translator during the missionary trip. He calls it one of the best experiences of his young life. He engrosses himself in the culture, eating the food of the people and shopping at their markets.
"It is funny to see their reaction when I speak the language," Marquel said of interacting with someone from Japan. "They are shocked when I speak the language. They often ask if one of my parents is from Japan or if they were in military and stationed there. They are amazed to find out that I learned this in school."
His skills on and off the field are lining him up for his transition from the tough streets of Culver to college. He has gotten solid college interest from the likes of Nebraska, Utah and West Virginia, and received scholarship offers from Cornell and Princeton, where he is planning to visit on January 22nd. Carter figures to be a success at the college level with his quick feet -- and even quicker mind.
Despite having visits set in January for both Oregon and Georgia, it is rumored that South Carolina running back
A consensus top 10 player in the nation,