For the second year in a row, the Long County Blue Tide football team has called themselves the home of an NFL Draft pick. And for the second year in a row, they held a ceremony to retire the high school jersey of one of their former players as they honored Tariq Carpenter on Friday, January 27.
Carpenter graduated from Long County in 2017, the same year as best friend and Washington Commander Jamin Davis, before going on to play college football at Georgia Tech. After starring at safety for the Yellow Jackets for four years, he was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft with the 228th overall pick.
He returned to Ludowici Friday night to see his number 2 jersey retired. He was also presented with a key to the city by Mayor Jim Fuller, an official proclamation by Police Chief and County Commissioner Robert “Preacher” Parker and a declaration of Tariq Carpenter Night by Sheriff Craig Nobles.
Former Blue Tide football coach Eric McNair talked about the “numbers” and how of 10,000 high school senior football players across the country, “only nine make it to the NFL and even fewer make it to the final 53-man roster.”
“The class of 2017 at Long County High School not only had one, but two players make it to the NFL and their teams’ final rosters,” McNair said.
McNair described Carpenter as a “sharp player” and “ferocious hitter,” but he also had another factor to him that made him stand out even more.
“He also had what the Miami Hurricanes would classify as ‘swagger’,” McNair said. “He would hit you and he was proud of it. Never a trash talker, but he was proud of it.”
After Long County High School principal Sherry Lester presented the cased number 2 jersey to Carpenter, the Packer said he was grateful for everyone coming out and that everyone should follow their dreams.
“Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Your dreams are capable, no matter what,” Carpenter said.
Later in the night, Carpenter said he was so honored to come back home and see everyone supporting him.
“Man, the amount of love I received is indescribable,” he said. “I didn’t even dream this far. To have all these people from Long County come and support me, I just can’t say thank you enough.”
Carpenter hopes that his legacy at Long County will be remembered for years to come.
“(It is) just proof in the pudding that you can do anything that you put your mind to,” he said. “You know, I wasn’t the best kid in seventh, eighth grade, but I hope that I am living proof that you can turn your life around and do great things.”
Carpenter was a leading tackler for the Packers on special teams throughout the 2022 season and looks to build on that success in 2023.