Each Friday, Ultimate Autographs will feature one athlete that is part of the Ultimate Autographs lineup. This week's Friday Featured Athlete is NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter.
Starring in both football and basketball for Middletown High School, Carter was heavily recruited before finally deciding to go to Ohio State University. He would prove to be an immediate impact player, setting a Rose Bowl record with nine receptions and 172 yards in his freshman year. He became a consensus All-American following his junior season, becoming the first All-American WR in Buckeyes history. Carter would be ruled ineligible by the NCAA for his senior season but left Ohio St. as the school's leader in career receptions.
Carter was a fourth-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1987 supplemental draft and saw limited action during his rookie season. He would become more of a focal point in the Eagles offense in his second and third year, eventually leading the team with 11 touchdown receptions in 1989. Despite his success on the field, Carter and Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan did not see eye to eye and Carter was cut prior to the start of the 1990 NFL season.
The Minnesota Vikings claimed Carter off waivers and despite an amazing performance against his former team on Monday Night Football, Carter's first season with the Vikings saw him stuck behind Hassan Jones and Anthony Carter on the WR depth chart.
However, Carter showcased his elite skills with the Vikings in his second season with the team. He led the team with 72 receptions, 962 yards and five touchdown catches. Carter's success combined with new head coach Dennis Green helped return the Vikings to prominence in 1992 as the team went 11-5. Carter again led the team's aerial attack with 53 receptions, 681 yards, and 6 touchdowns despite missing the final four games of the season.
With NFL veteran Jim McMahon taking the reigns at QB in 1993, Carter posted an incredible season with 86 receptions, 1,071 yards and 9 touchdowns. The breakout campaign saw Carter earn his first Pro Bowl and the Vikings earned their second consecutive playoff appearance.
The next few seasons saw the Vikings QB change multiple times but Carter remained a prolific WR. With Warren Moon, Carter broke the NFL record for most receptions in a season in 1994 and posted the best season of his career with 122 receptions, 1,371 yards and 17 touchdowns. With Brad Johnson taking over in 1996, Carter helped lead the Vikings to another playoff berth with 96 receptions, 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns.
In 1998, the Vikings selected Randy Moss int he first round of the NFL Draft and the two players combined to be one of the NFL's most dangerous tandems. The Vikings cruised to a 15-1 record and Carter earned his fifth-consecutive Pro Bowl nod.
The following season saw Carter put up another incredible statistical season with 90 receptions, 1,241 yards and lead the NFL with 13 touchdowns. He finished only second to fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Rice for most receptions through the '90s and was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team.
In 2000, Carter became just the second player in NFL history to have 1,000 career receptions en route to earning his eighth Pro Bowl.
When the stellar WR left the team, Carter was the all-time franchise leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Upon retirement, Carter was second behind Rice in career receptions and career touchdowns. In 2000, Carter was selected as a member of the Ohio State Football All-Century team wand was inducted into the Ohio State Varsity O Hall of Fame in 2003.
Carter was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013. Following his NFL career, Carter has been an analyst for HBO, ESPN, Yahoo Sports and is currently with Fox Sports.
Cris Carter will be appearing at the Minnesota Sportz Spring Autograph Show along with a litany of fellow Minnesota Vikings legends. Tickets and pre-order product are still available.