The Only Thing Bigger Than Ron'Dell Carter's Personality Is His Game

FRISCO, Texas -- Draw up a blueprint for the ideal football star: What qualities spring to mind? 

A charismatic demeanor helps connect with the fans. Words and actions alike command the respect of teammates and coaches. And -- oh yeah -- he better be a star-quality player on the field. 

Ron’Dell Carter checks all of those characteristics. 

The 2019 Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year, 1st Team All-American and Buck Buchanan Award finalist no doubt has star-player game. Carter racked up 11.5 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss leading up to James Madison’s National Championship Game appearance. 

Carter has undeniable NFL potential, combining explosion off the line with pro size at 6-foot-3, 275 pounds. And as for the team that drafts him, he has the personality to be an instant fan favorite. 

Naturally funny, thoughtful and candid, Carter is an interviewer’s dream. He exudes the confidence of a star, with humility that reflects the tireless work he’s put in to reach this point. 

And as for commanding the respect of those around him, Dukes coach Curt Cignetti states it best. 

“Ron'Dell has such a huge personality. When he talks, people listen,” Cignetti said. 

Cignetti emphasized James Madison has a few of “those guys” -- veteran leaders who set and enforce an example for teammates to follow -- but that Carter is “alpha dog.” 

The standout defensive end’s presence provided a necessary foundation on which Cignetti and the new coaching staff taking over at James Madison before this season built. 

Carter takes pride in the role he played steadying the program during the transition. 

“Coaching matters,” he said. “But it’s the seniors that make up a team, I believe. And I think a lot of coaches will say the same thing. Senior leadership will dictate a team. Those are the guys who are going to make sure the stuff the coaches don’t see doesn’t happen, off the field issues.” 

In that regard, Carter’s contributions carried as much weight in James Madison reaching the National Championship Game as his lofty pass-rushing statistics. 

Cignetti came to Harrisonburg with a lengthy coaching track record, winning virtually everywhere as both a head coach and assistant, where at Div. II Indiana University Pennsylvania, JMU’s CAA counterpart Elon, and alongside Nick Saban at Alabama. 

And having experienced what goes into winning football, Cignetti understood the value in character akin to Carter’s. 

“To have leadership that steps up off the field in those moments that you don't even know about, you have no idea about, a lot of great teams have that kind of guy,” he said.

Carter has the respect of his coaches and teammates alike, in part because respect is a two-way street. 

Amid the individual accolades and possible NFL future, he says one thing matters most to him with the Dukes on the brink of a national title. 

“I play for these guys; for guys like Rashad [Robinson] and Dimitri [Holloway], who overcome drastic injuries, for them to be able to bounce back, have the opportunity to win a championship,” he said. “I definitely want a ring on my finger by the end of this week. [But] like I said, I play for these guys. These are my guys right here, and the rest of the guys in that locker room. 

“I want to do it for them, I want to do it for this school,” he added. 

Nothing could make Carter’s star shine any more brightly in Harrisonburg than a championship, but he also hopes it leaves a lasting impression. 

Carter cited Dukes of the past for crafting his blueprint: Aaron Ankrah, Simeyon Robinson, and others, and simply working to carry on their legacies. 

“They laid that foundation. I was a sophomore when I got here, and I was able to follow what they did,” Carter said. “They won CAA championships and they won a [national championship] ring. And I’m like, ‘Well, alright. I want a part of that. How did they do it?’

“When I leave,” he continued, “I hope the guys will be able to follow what I’ve left.” 

The mark of a true star is the ability to establishing a long-lasting legacy. Ron’Dell Carter is well on his way. 

FCS Stars On Uneven Footing With NFL Draft Quickly Approaching

Despite the havoc the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has wreaked on spring football, the NFL Draft will go on as planned next month. 

'Fear Kills Intellect': COVID-19 Has Tremendous Impact On College Football

Campuses across the country closed in recent days, adhering to recommendations the Center for Disease Control (CDC) set forth in combatting the spread of novel coronavirus or COVID-19.

Elon Looks To Build On Resurgent Finale This Spring

Elon football book-ended its 2019 season with games against high-quality opponents, decided by three and two points. 

Trio Of Rhode Island Players To Represent CAA Football At NFL Combine

Rhode Island wide receivers Isaiah Coulter and Aaron Parker and Rams’ offensive lineman Kyle Murphy will represent CAA Football at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, which takes place Feb. 27 – March 1 in Indianapolis, Ind.

Spring Comes Early At William & Mary As Tribe Returns To The Gridiron

Mike London Is Back With The Tribe

Barely moments after the last piece of confetti fell in Frisco, signaling the end of the 2019 college football season, William & Mary opened its spring practice season in Williamsburg, kicking off the 2020 campaign. 

Elon's Matt Foster Selected As CAA Football Scholar-Athlete Of The Year

RICHMOND, Va. (February 11, 2020) – Elon senior tight end Matt Foster was selected as the 2019 CAA Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year by a vote of the conference’s athletics directors.

CAA Signing Day In Review: 'Nova, JMU Cap Impressive Hauls

The implementation of an early signing period in December has altered the dynamics of National Signing Day in February somewhat. Still, the first Wednesday of the month marks an important milestone in the development of any college football program. 

D'Eriq King To Arkansas? A Knee-Jerk Observation

A beautiful thing happened as LSU’s coronation tour neared its grand conclusion on Monday night: Breaking news, as D’Eriq King Tweeted, “Just kidding, I’m definitely leaving Houston — probably always was.”

Mecole Hardman Sparked A Chiefs Comeback, But First He Called His Shot

With Kansas City trailing Houston 24-0 in the second quarter of Sunday's AFC Divisional round playoff game, Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman returned a kick from his own end zone all the way back to the Texan 42-yard line, injecting life into his team and into a rabid crowd at Arrowhead Stadium.

James Madison Fell Short, But The Dukes Aren't Going Anywhere

FRISCO, Texas — Were James Madison and North Dakota State to play 100 times, it’s easy to predict that they would split the series 50-50.