The Pigskin is a unique award presented for excellence in high school football to a Rutherford County participant. Created in 1995, the past recipients are a decorated roll call that includes people like Philip Shadowens, Larry Daniels, Itavius Mathers, Matt Williams, Jack Jones, Kevin Creasy, and Sonny Gray. This year, Smyrna high standout Arion Carter is the player that has earned some ‘Skin,
For those that happened to see Arion Carter on the football field in 2022, his talent was evident. An all-around force for Smyrna, this six-foot three-inch two hundred twenty-five pounder led the Bulldogs in tackles (8.4 per game), rushing yards (107.6 per game), and scored 19 touchdowns while guiding his team to a 10-2 overall record. To go along with those recorded statistics, Carter also excelled on special teams and as a punishing blocker. Never afraid to lay some leather, this Dog marked his territory time and again.
Between the lines, this senior was an unquestioned talent. One of the things that really sets him apart from others is his character. Smyrna head coach Matt Williams will quickly testify as to the quality of this young man.
“Arion Carter’s on-field achievements are obvious”, says Williams, the dean of Rutherford County high school football coaches. “The example he set for what a true leader is will stay with our program for years to come. Leading on the field, in the classroom, and in the hallways, at Smyrna high school makes him a special kid that all hold in high regard. Arion Carter left our program better than he found it with the examples he set.”
Local folks are not the only ones who have realized the talents of this young man. Carter will continue playing football at the University of Tennessee. Along with carrying the Pigskin to Knoxville, he also will tote the Tennessee Class 6A Mr. Football and Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year Awards.
Currently an early enrollee at Tennessee, this young man has been in the middle of a whirlwind of accolades and achievements. Much like opponents on the football field, he has handled it all with a head-on approach and feet firmly on the ground.
“Being awarded the Pigskin is a tremendous honor and I am very thankful for the recognition”, says Carter. “I owe it all to my family, my coaches, my teammates, and of course God. Without them, none of this happens. God has blessed me with some talents and everyone else has helped me realize them.”
In a season filled with highlights, Carter doesn’t really single out one particular thing. It wasn’t his decisive runs in the win at Rockvale, not his complete dominance of LaVergne, nor his rampage at Riverdale that provided Matt Williams with his 100th win as Smyrna head coach. Instead, this Bulldog singles out the simple things.
“Having the opportunity to suit up in a Smyrna uniform and represent that Bulldog pride is what meant the most to me”, says Carter. “Playing for God, my team, and my family was the biggest highlight. I am proud of the things we accomplished, but moving forward I know I have to continue working hard and keep getting better. Hopefully, I can continue playing football for a while, but no matter what I will always bleed purple and gold.”