After missing all of fall camp and spending the past month in academic limbo, Duron Carter has officially been spotted on the Drew-Thomas practice fields. Per Chase Goodbread:
At long last, Duron Carter on hand for UA practice.
To be precise, UA has not released an official statement yet to the effect that Carter has been admitted, but pay that no mind; practically speaking there is no way Carter would ever be allowed on the practice fields without being cleared by UA Admissions, so his mere presence is all of the confirmation needed. Some sort of an official statement by either UA or Nick Saban will likely come at the conclusion of practice, but that's a mere formality at this point.
With this long standoff out of the way, the question now becomes just how soon Carter will be able to become a meaningful contributor. Most observers, including myself, had him as a likely starter in three-wide sets prior to this holdup, but missing all of fall camp will certainly come at a price in the form of decreased effectiveness. On the other hand, Carter is no ordinary freshman, but an upperclassman who has already played in the Big Ten and in the junior college ranks, and while he has not been able to practice this August he has been on campus the past two months, has presumably had access to the playbook, and did participate in the summer pass skeleton drills.
The easy conclusion is that it will be several weeks until Carter can blossom into a meaningful contributor on a consistent basis -- say, Arkansas or later -- but this is really uncharted territory and depending on how hard Carter has worked out on his own it may be possible that he contributes sooner than many now expect. Either way, he should see some snaps this weekend against Kent State, and he will be on the travel roster when the Tide heads north to Happy Valley, so the opportunities will be there if he can take advantage of them.
Finally, we would be remiss without mentioning the impact this will have on Danny Woodson, Jr., who will now greyshirt this fall. Woodson will instead arrive this January and participate in the winter S&C program in preparation for spring practice in March and April of 2012.
UPDATE: Saban's comments on the situation with Carter's playing time:
If [he is admitted], we would put a plan into action to try to work him into shape. He probably wouldn't have a lot of opportunity in [the Kent State] game; we would try to use this week to help him implement into what he needs to do as a football player to try to get ready for some time down the road. Maybe a week or so from now, he could be a guy that could work his way into something if he performs well."