Don’t underestimate the impact fullback Tory Carter had on the Tennessee Titans’ offense last season. The Titans fielded a considerably more efficient and productive rushing attack when Carter served as the lead blocker. An undrafted free agent gem out of LSU last season, Carter offers rare versatility at the position as someone that can run, block and catch passes coming out of the backfield. Carter appears primed for a breakout sophomore campaign that will establish him as one of the best fullbacks in the league.
Carter recently spoke exclusively with Broadway Sports regarding his incredible rookie campaign, his situation heading into Year Two, how he became the passionate, energetic fullback we’ve all grown to love, his relationship with Derrick Henry, and so much more.
JM: You were actually released during final roster cuts last season. The Titans immediately added you to the practice squad and you worked your way onto the active roster rather quickly. By the end of the season, you were considered a starter on offense. What a turnaround it was for you in such short succession. How do you reflect on your rookie season?
TC: It was definitely a grind. I learned a lot about the business side of the NFL and football in general. When you go through so many roster transactions, you tend to learn about how they work (laughs). My biggest takeaway was learning how everything works. It’s a lot different than college was, especially on the business side with how the roster changes throughout the course of the season.
JM: What about from a performance aspect? I thought you had a great rookie season.
TC: I think I did well. I felt like my play improved throughout the year. My coaches in the past have always told me that you want to get a little bit better each week. That’s the mindset I took with me into my rookie season. I was trying to get better every week.
I went into this offseason with some stuff I wanted to work on and improve. I’m trying to showcase growth during my second season.
JM: You never want to get complacent, but my analysis of the situation says you’re in a totally different space this offseason. Last season, you were in a positional battle against an established fullback in Khari Blasingame. Currently, you’re the only fullback on the Titans roster and your spot feels extremely secure. Does that change your offseason approach at all?
TC: It doesn’t change my approach. I’ve been trying to train and work the same way I always have. I’ve been working the same way since I was a kid. I’ve always tried to get after it. I always say I’m competing against myself. It’s definitely a lot different, though. You’re right about that. Maybe not as much stress goes into it. It’s been a great offseason for me. I’ve been getting better every week.
JM: How can Tory Carter add a new wrinkle to the Titans’ offense in 2022? I feel like you’re a versatile guy that can make a massive impact.
TC: I feel like there’s a lot of things I did last season that I can build on going forward. I’ve pinpointed some clear areas of growth. I think my biggest attribute is my energy and passion for the game. I bring a lot of energy to the field. I’m not the most dynamic athlete to ever play the sport, but I bring some energy and intangibles to the team. That’s what I offer the offense. That mindset has taken me a long way thus far.
JM: On that topic, your whole aesthetic is so much fun and your play style is extremely physical. Have you always been this way?
TC: I’ve been this way since the very first day I stepped on the field (laughs). That very first practice, I remember my dad telling me, “Hey son, you’re not going to get in trouble for being physical out here, so let it all loose” (laughs). I knew that I had to be a good person when I stepped off the field. There’s a time and a place. I try to be kind away from football. My dad taught me to treat people the way I want to be treated.
As far as getting on the field and competing goes, I’ve been this way since my very first practice (laughs).
JM: We love that (laughs). The fullback position is starting to make a comeback. I don’t know how aware you are of this. Several NFL teams are using fullbacks again.
TC: I think football is always evolving. It’s always the same game at the end of the day. Something that got lost in the shuffle in the past will always reappear in the future, especially as far as personnel goes. The fullback position is experiencing that evolution right now I guess. The past couple of years have featured a lot of nickel-style defenses. Teams were out there with 11 or 12 personnel most of the time. Once you start mixing in 21 and 22 personnel, defenses have to have guys on the roster that can defend that.
Football is a chess match. The fullback definitely brings a sense of grit to the table. We have a different mindset overall. Offenses in general can benefit from utilizing fullbacks. We make an impact on offense, we change the defense, and we play on special teams, too. I feel like us fullbacks bring a lot of juice, man.
JM: I feel like we need to start a motto that says, “make fullbacks sexy again.”
TC: I think Keith Smith made a brand called, “make fullbacks great again” (laughs). I actually own one of those hats.
JM: That’s hilarious. Sticking with this topic, what’s your favorite aspect of playing the position?
TC: I just love how versatile playing fullback can be. You can have a smaller body type, or a bigger body type, it doesn’t really matter. You’re always striving towards the same goal regardless. It’s such a fun position to play because you run block, pass block, you can run the ball and catch the ball. Obviously fullbacks in the league have to play a huge role on special teams as well. It’s one of the most versatile positions in the game.
JM: The relationship between a running back and the fullback is so important and unique. You must appreciate blocking for Derrick Henry. We know he appreciates you as well.
TC: It’s crucial. We have to be on the same page. We have to trust each other. He trusts me to make that block and I trust him to make the correct cut. We have to see the same thing and communicate with one another.
I’m blessed to block for the best running back in the league. As far as us being in unison, that’s how we make our money at the end of the day. All it takes is one block or one cut to spring him loose. When it’s him [Derrick Henry] against the safety, we know how that typically ends (laughs).
JM: A lot of those safeties make business decisions when that happens.
TC: You bet your ass they do (laughs).
JM: Our film analysis indicates the Titans had a lot of success on outside zone runs, toss plays and counter lead with you serving as the lead blocker. What do you enjoy about those opportunities?
TC: I try to make the best of every play and opportunity I get. I don’t have a favorite play call or anything like that. I just go out there and try to execute whatever we’re trying to execute. That’s my end of the bargain. I just love being out there and competing with the guys. I have to be one of 11 [players on offense]. I do that with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
JM: Do fullbacks get offended when they see teams use defensive tackles at the fullback spot in goal line situations?
TC: That question can probably get me in some trouble (laughs). That’s a sticky question. I can only speak for myself. You always want to be out there in those situations. It’s all about whatever the coaches scheme up. You always want to keep the defense on their toes. Personally, I wouldn’t get salty if something like that were to happen. As long as we score a touchdown and win the ball game, that’s all I care about.
JM: You played on that absolutely legendary LSU team that went undefeated and won the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship. The players on that team have lived up to their billing, from Joe Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase to Justin Jefferson and everybody else. What do you most appreciate about that team when you look back?
TC: I really just love reflecting on the brotherhood we built together. A lot of that offense, we all came in together in the same recruiting class. That was 2017 at LSU. We got closer and closer with each passing year. We really gelled. Throughout that season in particular, you could really tell by the vibe in the locker room and at practice that we were different and achieving something special. I just appreciate the friendships and connections I made with those guys along the way. Those relationships are going to last a lifetime.
JM: You recently held a football camp in your hometown of Leesburg, Georgia at your alma mater of Lee County High School. You must enjoy being in a position to give back to your community, which first fostered your love of football.
TC: I definitely do. It means so much to me. I love working with kids. I love trying to inspire them to travel down a positive path. As a kid, I remember going to football camps held by guys that were playing in the league at the time. They inspired me. Having an opportunity to give back and find myself in a similar position, it’s a true blessing. It’s a dream come true for me. I’ve been looking forward to holding something like that ever since I signed with the Titans.
JM: We’re going to end this conversation on that beautiful, positive note. We’ve really appreciated your time today, Tory. In closing, training camp is officially here. What do your goals look like for July and August as you prepare for the regular season?
TC: I’m aiming to get better every single day. I want to continue building my knowledge of the game. I’m planning on improving the things I did well, while also getting better in the areas I didn’t do as well as a rookie. I want to get 1% better every day.