Lorenzo Carter was used to winning championships.
He won four state titles -- two in football and two in basketball -- as a high school standout at Norcross. He became a five-star prospect as a high-profile recruit. He became accustomed to earning accolades at a young age.
Since coming to Georgia, Carter has tallied 9 ½ sacks in three seasons, with five coming as a junior a year ago.
During the 2016 season, Carter emerged as one of Georgia’s defensive leaders and had the potential to enter the NFL draft, even if he wouldn’t have gone in the first round.
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But Carter decided to come back for his senior season to chase the feeling of what he was accustomed to before enrolling at Georgia.
“I need to win something, man,” Carter said. “I finished high school with four rings. Just coming here to Georgia, with the legacy of the ‘G,’ it’s been a minute. It’s been a minute since Athens had something to celebrate. I’m trying to come back and give people a reason to be happy.”
Georgia has not won an SEC title since 2005. Its lone undisputed national championship came in 1980.
The Bulldogs have been deprived of a championship of late, which is something Carter is quite cognizant of.
“It’s a little difficult. Every year you come in expecting to play for a national championship,” Carter said. “You put in the work in the summer. When you come back after a season and you didn’t get what you expected, it’s tough.”
Carter has certainly put in a good bit of work this summer. He trained with former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Chuck Smith to further develop his pass-rushing ability. Teammate Davin Bellamy would work with Smith on occasion, too.
Carter said Smith helped not only refine his technique but improve his work habits.
“You have to put in the work,” Carter said. “He opened my eyes to understanding what it takes to get to the next level.”
While Carter received plenty of instruction from Smith, he said he made sure to focus on Georgia’s defensive scheme once players reconvened for voluntary activities.
Carter is hoping to build on a strong finish to the 2016 season. In games against Georgia Tech and TCU, Carter combined for 15 tackles and a sack. Against the Horned Frogs in the Liberty Bowl, Carter forced two fumbles.
“I’m thinking he can be however good he wants to be,” junior inside linebacker Roquan Smith said. “I think Lorenzo is a freak, to be perfectly honest. The sky’s the limit for him. He can do anything he sets his mind to.”
Carter is one of 10 defensive starters who returned to Georgia’s 2017 team. He will help lead a front seven that features a two-deep loaded with experience.
Entering his second season with head coach Kirby Smart, Carter said the defense knows what it needs to do to improve its eight-win total from 2016.
And if Georgia does, perhaps it will help Carter win the kind of games he was used to winning during his Norcross days.
“Everyone’s more comfortable,” Carter said. “Everybody knows what to expect. Everyone knows what’s going on. When we go out there and Coach Smart is ripping us because we’re not going hard, we know exactly why. We know what we have to do to get right.”