Summer 2024

Michigan State RB Nathan Carter plays to glorify God: 'I want people to know about Jesus'

“This whole story is not about me. It’s about the platform and the fact that Jesus has given me a gift. He’s given me the opportunity to share who He is, and that’s what I want people to know. I don’t want people to know about me. I want people to know about Jesus.”

That’s how Michigan State’s Nathan Carter summarized his true purpose in East Lansing as the Spartans’ new lead running back.

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On Tuesday, the team posted a video featuring Carter to help fans get to know the 21-year-old in his first year as a Spartan. Carter made it all about Christ.

“[Faith is] the hope that we all need, and yet, everyone is searching for it,” Carter said in the video. “We’re all searching for purpose. We’re all searching for something to fulfill us, something to sustain us. So it’s a gift that I believe God has given me to be able to use my words and be able to use my platform to be able to glorify Him and to spread His name.”

Currently, Carter’s 477 rushing yards this season are the second most in the Big Ten. He’s already posted three 100-yard days and found the end zone four times, including three scores against Richmond on Sept. 9. He should easily surpass his career high in rushing yards in a season, which is 578 in 2021 when he was at UConn.

Carter’s collegiate career began with the Huskies in 2020 under the cloud of the COVID pandemic. The Huskies never played a game that year. His team went 1-11 in 2021, and after a promising start through four games in 2022, Carter suffered a separated shoulder and missed the remainder of the season.

He transferred to Michigan State last offseason.

Injuries can be devastating for many athletes, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally too. Carter said God was his strength and his shield during the lengthy recovery process.

“I would say that I believe I took it really well, and my faith is a testament to that,” Carter said in the video. “Football wasn’t my identity. It was a sport that I play, but it wasn’t who I am. … God didn’t create me just to play football. Having that mindset and operating [like that], it allowed me to get through that injury with a lot of joy and a lot of peace.”

Carter doesn’t just pay lip service to Christ. He is involved with the campus ministry Athletes in Action at Michigan State and has even launched his own faith-based podcast, “The Carter Effect,” which he says is meant to glorify God.

“With a guy like Nate, his performance on the field is not so that he can earn the approval of his coaches or the fans or his family,” Athletes in Action Campus Director Phil Gillespie said in the video. “It’s a thank-you response to what God has done in his life. He’s playing something that he has been designed to play and that he loves.”

After a 2-0 start in 2023, the Spartans have dropped their last three games. This is their bye week, but on Oct. 14 they will have the opportunity to get their first conference victory when they take on Rutgers (4-1) at 12 p.m. ET in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Carter wants to win, but he knows that even if they don’t, God still holds him close.

“I play so free on the field. God didn’t place me here just to play football. There’s a much more greater purpose that I have,” he said. “… If I don’t [gain] X amount of yards or I don’t score X amount of touchdowns, God doesn’t love me any more or any less. He loves me already.”

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