University of Georgia standout Jalen Carter will be a free man when he almost inevitably hears his name early on the first day of next month’s NFL Draft.
The huge defensive tackle pleaded no contest to reckless driving and misdemeanor racing charges Thursday. He was sentenced to one year probation, a $1,000 fine, a defensive driving course, and 80 hours of community service.
Carter’s Georgia attorney, Kim T. Stephens, also sought to “debunk false information” about Carter’s connection to a January 15, 2023 car crash that killed UGA teammate Devin Willcock and analyst recruiting officer Chandler LeCroy, following the Georgia Bulldogs’ celebration of their second straight college football championship.
Stephens said in a statement obtained by the Daily News: “Jalen Carter’s actions on January 15, 2023 did not cause the tragic accident,” as evidenced by the fact that police only charged him with a couple of misdemeanors.
It also said that Carter, who was not under the influence of alcohol, “stopped his car immediately after the accident occurred and ran to the wrecked vehicle while his passenger called 911.”
Carter spoke to police and was told he could leave the scene, Stephens said.
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Most analysts see Carter among the top college prospects in this year’s NFL Draft, which begins April 27 in Kansas City, Mo. Questions about Carter’s possible involvement in the January crash may have caused concern among teams lining up to sign him to a multimillion-dollar contract. .
Carter’s behavior off the field was also called into question in February when ESPN analyst Todd McShay wondered if unspecified “character issues” could affect his draft status. People associated with the University of Georgia football program, including defensive line coach Tray Scott, rushed to defend the 21-year-old stands out as a stellar teammate and charitable figure.
Concerns about his fitness were raised during Pro Day Wednesday in Georgia, where Carter trained for NFL scouts. He arrived weighing 323 pounds, who weighs 9 pounds more than their combined scouting weight, according to ESPN. Carter reportedly struggled to complete the exercises and aborted parts of the workout due to cramping and shortness of breath.
SportsTalkAtl.com wondered if the controversy surrounding Carter could have him drop to the No. 8 draft pickwhere the Atlanta Falcons could step in and keep him in Georgia.
Former NFL scout and general manager Rick Spielman told USA Today earlier this month that Carter “may be the most talented player in this year’s draft.”