The Navy football brotherhood lost one of its most beloved members last weekend when alumnus Lt. Blake Carter died unexpectedly.
Carter passed away June 29 in Norfolk, Virginia, in the apartment he shared with fellow former Navy football player Curtis Bass. Carter, 27, was serving as a surface warfare officer aboard the USS Wasp, a multi-purpose amphibious assault ship.
Carter was a standout defensive back for Navy from 2006 through 2009, appearing in 48 games with 25 starts. The 5-foot-11, 187-pound cornerback was a four-year varsity letterman on teams that posted a combined record of 35-18, captured the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy four times and appeared in four bowl games.
“Blake was one of the best corners we’ve ever had and also one of the best people,” longtime Navy defensive coordinator Budd Green said. “I became very close to Blake and loved him dearly. A huge part of my heart is missing right now. It’s a tough loss for the entire Navy football family and our thoughts and prayers are with Blake’s parents and relatives.”
Carter received other Division I scholarship offers after a standout career at Stillwater High in Oklahoma. He was steered to the Naval Academy by Terrence Anderson, a close family friend who had been an All-American center for the Midshipmen.
Anderson, whose father was an assistant coach at Oklahoma State at the time, used to babysit Carter when the latter was a young boy. Anderson knew the family because Craig Carter, Blake’s father, had played football at Oklahoma State.
Ram Vela first met Blake Carter at the Naval Academy Prep School in 2005. Capt. Joe Speed, a former Navy football player, was coaching the NAPS football team at the time and gathered the new recruits together.
“Capt. Speed went around the room and had each of us state our name, hometown and position,” Vela said. “When Blake stood up to introduce himself, I thought to myself. ‘What in the world is he doing here?’ Blake looked like he belonged at Texas or Oklahoma or something.”
As a junior, Carter turned in one of the most memorable performances of his career against service academy rival Air Force. He completely changed a close game by returning a blocked punt 25 yards for a touchdown then blocking a punt that Bobby Doyle recovered in the end zone for another score.
“Blake had a knack for coming up big in the big game. He just made a ton of critical plays over the course of four years,” Green said. “Blake was one of the most dependable players I’ve ever had the pleasure to coach. We could put him up against the best receivers and know for sure that he would get the job done. By the time Blake was a senior, I did not have to worry about that side of the field.”
Carter was credited with 51 tackles and led Navy with six pass breakups as a senior. His top individual performance that season came during a 23-21 upset of Notre Dame in South Bend as Carter led the Mids with nine tackles and also had two pass breakups.
“Blake just played great that day. He covered Michael Floyd (Arizona Cardinals) or Golden Tate (Detroit Lions) the whole game, and I remember he broke up two passes in the end zone,” Green said.
Green said Carter did not say much, choosing to lead by actions instead of words.
“Blake was a tremendous example to each and every young man who walked through the door of our locker room,” Green said. “Blake worked harder than anybody and always had a smile on his face while doing it. He loved the academy, loved the brotherhood and was very encouraging to the younger players on the team.”
Carter and Vela became best friends at the academy and were virtually inseparable. Carter routinely traveled back to Vela’s hometown of San Antonio during breaks and their two families grew close. Vela recalls a caring individual who was concerned with the welfare of others more than himself.
“Blake was really instrumental with providing that level of support everyone is searching for at the academy. I know that I leaned on Blake quite a bit,” Vela said. “We spent so much time together, and Blake had a great way of keeping your spirits up. He was an optimist and the type of person who could put it all in perspective.”
Since their son’s death, Craig and Phyllis Carter have received dozens of phone calls of condolence from his former Navy football teammates along with coaches and support staff. They have heard all sorts of stories about Blake’s kindness, such as the time he learned a classmate was struggling to pass the swim test and took it upon himself to help.
“Me and my wife just want everyone to know how much Blake loved the Naval Academy, loved the football program and loved his teammates,” said Craig Carter, who struggled to talk about his son without breaking down. “Blake was a wonderful child and a good person. Please tell everyone about that smile because that was his greatest gift.”
Services for Lt. Blake Cameron Carter will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, July 12, at Sunnybrook Christian Church in Stillwater.