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Jalen Carter, Potential Top NFL Draft Pick, Charged with Racing in Fatal Crash

Georgia DL Jalen Carter

Potential No. 1 overall draft pick Jalen Carter was charged and booked Wednesday with reckless driving and racing in connection with a crash that took the lives of two people in January.

Carter was booked Wednesday at 11:33 p.m. ET on misdemeanor charges of Reckless Driving and Racing On Highway/Streets, NFL Media reported. He paid a $4,000 bond and was released from Athens-Clark County Jail at 11:49 p.m.

Carter was back at the NFL Combine Thursday to finish his team interviews, measurements and other activities.

According to a police statement, Carter was racing his car the evening of Jan. 15, behavior resulting in an accident that claimed the lives of Carter's teammate, Devin Willock, and UGA staffer Chandler LeCroy. Carter and LeCroy were believed to have been "operating their vehicles in a manner consistent with racing," the statement said. Carter's car was not involved in the crash.

"The evidence demonstrated that both vehicles switched between lanes, drove in the center turn lane, drove in opposite lanes of travel, overtook other motorists, and drove at high rates of speed, in an apparent attempt to outdistance each other," the statement said.

Two warrants for his arrest, both misdemeanors, were issued.

The announcement surfaced hours after a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution claiming Carter was present the night of the accident and misled police with an inconsistent recounting of the events.

Carter tweeted an official statement Wednesday afternoon from Indianapolis, where he was participating at the combine.

"This morning, I received a telephone call from the Athens, Georgia Police Department informing me that two misdemeanor warrants have been issued against me for reckless driving and racing," Carter wrote. "Numerous media reports also have surfaced this morning containing inaccurate information concerning the tragic events of January 15th, 2023. It is my intention to return to Athens to answer misdemeanor charges against me and to make certain that the complete and accurate truth is presented. There is no question in my mind that when all the facts are known that I will be fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing."

He had been scheduled to speak with reporters on Wednesday morning at the combine in Indianapolis, but the 21-year-old skipped his podium appearance and will not speak for the rest of the week, an NFL spokesman told reporters. However, he was expected to go through medical testing.

Carter met with some teams for formal interviews before the charges were announced, NFL Media reported.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart issued a statement on Wednesday morning saying the charges were "deeply concerning," and that the school would continue cooperating with the investigation.

Carter was one of the nation's most lauded defensive players in 2022, being named a unanimous All-American while helping Georgia win its second straight College Football Playoff National Championships.

Mike Tannenbaum, a former Jets and Dolphins executive and an analyst for The 33rd Team, believes this could impact Carter's draft stock.

"Obviously, all teams will do their homework to get all of the details from the incident," Tannenbaum said. "Depending on his level of responsibility in this unfortunate incident, it could materially impact where he’s drafted. Clubs will also want to know if this is an aberrational situation or something that he has had more than one incident in his past."

As NFL teams prepare for April's draft, Carter has consistently been considered one of the top overall players. He's currently ranked No. 1 overall on The 33rd Team's 2023 NFL Draft big board.

Tags: Jalen Carter