Penn State tight end Kyle Carter to miss rest of season

Penn State's Kyle Carter. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

For all the success, for all the accolades, for all the fun tight end Kyle Carter had playing football this season, there are two images that will likely linger for a while.

The first came in the waning seconds of the Ohio State loss. The redshirt freshman stood on the sideline, with a large ice pack wrapped around his ankle, blankly gazing at the scoreboard.

The second came last week against Nebraska as Penn State's large first half lead began to vanish. Late in the fourth quarter, Carter was on the sideline again. This time he was sitting down with a bandage wrapped around his right wrist. Tears streamed down his face.

Carter, who emerged as a valuable asset in Bill O'Brien's offense, will not see the field again this season. 

The wrist injury Carter sustained against Nebraska was season-ending, O'Brien announced on Tuesday. Carter played against the Huskers after battling back from an ankle injury, which forced him to miss one game.

O'Brien would not elaborate on the scope of Carter's latest injury "out of respect for Kyle and his mom," though a director in Penn State's sports information department Tweeted that Carter dislocated his right wrist.

Carter is the Lions' second leading receiver with 36 catches for 453 yards and two touchdowns. He was the only freshman on the John Mackey Award watchlist, given annually to the nation's top tight end. He was also just one catch shy of tying Deon Butler's 2005 school record for freshmen.

"He had an excellent season for us," O'Brien said. "As a young player, he came in here trying to learn a position that, offensively, is the second-hardest position to learn behind quarterback."

The position is the "F" tight end, a carryover from O'Brien's time with the New England Patriot. It calls for a large, athletic receiver (Carter is 6-foot-3, 247-pounds) who can line up all over the field and create mismatches.

The inclusion and emphasis of tight ends in O'Brien's complex offense is a new concept for Penn State; Joe Paterno used his tight ends mainly for blocking. In fact, only two tight ends caught a pass for Penn State last season. 

But the group O'Brien inherited thrived under the new scheme. Carter's void will create bigger roles for two other rising stars: former walk on Matt Lehman (19 receptions, 228 yards, three touchdowns) and freshman Jesse James (11 receptions, 144 yards, four touchdowns).

For Carter, it's a sad end to an otherwise impressive season.

-Emily Kaplan