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Georgia's Jalen Carter Says He's Healthy Ahead of Ohio State Game After Ankle Injury

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 29, 2022

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 03: Jalen Carter #88 of the Georgia Bulldogs reacts after a defensive stop against the LSU Tigers during the second quarter  in the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Georgia Bulldogs star defensive tackle Jalen Carter told reporters on Thursday that the nagging ankle injury that has bothered him for much of the 2022 season is finally completely healthy.

"I just had to get a lot of treatment and had to really change my mindset and let's get better," he said.

It comes at a good time for the Bulldogs, with a matchup against Ohio State in the College Football Playoff semifinals looming on Saturday. Georgia is looking to defend its national championship from a year ago.

Because Carter is widely expected to be a top-five pick in the 2023 NFL draft, he said some people brought up the idea of sitting out the rest of the season and preparing for the draft rather than risking further injury to his ankle.

"I was seeing that a lot, but I didn't let that get in my head," he noted. "I didn't want to opt out on the team. I wanted to finish with my guys. So, I didn't let nobody like come in my head and say, 'Oh, let's do this, do that.'"

In The Athletic's latest mock draft, reporter Adam Jahns projected Carter to go No. 2 overall to the Chicago Bears, while Kevin Hanson of SI.com had him going No. 3 overall to the Seattle Seahawks (via the Denver Broncos).

In both mocks, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young was the top overall pick, while his teammate, edge-rusher Will Anderson Jr., was Hanson's pick to go No. 2 overall.

Either way, Carterβ€”who has registered 29 tackles (seven for loss), three sacks, two forced fumbles and two passes defended despite battling through a balky ankle, regular double teams and missing two games with a knee injuryβ€”isn't going to last long in April's draft, and for good reason.

"He's straight beast mode," Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo told ESPN's Mark Schlabach. "His strength is his combination of strength, speed and size. You just don't see that too often. Taking on double-teams or grabbing guys with one hand, he throws them out of his gap and goes and make plays. He's a force, and it's a great thing knowing I'm playing complementary football with his pass-rushing skills."

Now, Ohio State will be facing the beast, and a fully healthy one.