COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UCLA linebacker wants to make it big, so he can reward his hard-working mother. By Brian Dohn STAFF WRITER As UCLA weak-side linebacker Reggie Carter walks off the Rose Bowl field after home games, he seeks out little kids and hands them his wrist bands, his gloves and whatever else he can peel from his body. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.He used to walk the hallways at Crenshaw High singing his favorite R&B tunes, and more than occasionally he does the same in UCLA’s locker room, although teammates say his only chance at “American Idol” is to be on one of the blooper shows. Carter is polite, often smiling off the field, and yet there is the other part of his reputation, which is one of the fiercest, meanest Bruins on the field. In fact, his demeanor is so different on the field, one member of UCLA’s program said Carter would bite a ball carriers’ hand if it meant causing a fumble. His motivation is simple. “I plan on trying to play for a long time,” Carter said. “I plan on taking care of my mother, so you have to look at it as the other team is trying to stop me from taking care of my mom.” Carter isn’t sure when providing for his mother, Selena Adway, became his career objective. He is an only child, and the man of the house because his father, Reginald Sr., was killed when Reggie was a 2-year-old. But Carter acknowledges his desire is bred from the work schedule Adway kept the last seven years. The alarm clock begins to beep at 3:30 a.m., and she rolls out of bed to catch the 4:40 a.m. bus to be at work by 6 a.m. Two jobs, some bus rides and 14 hours later, she is back from Culver City, at her Crenshaw-area home, exhausted yet fulfilled after her day of working with adult cerebral palsy sufferers. The first job is working with an individual, the second at United Cerebral Palsy on Washington Boulevard. Carter said his mother doesn’t have money for a car, or the insurance, so buses are her mode of transportation. Her lone indulgence is UCLA football, but only because a ticket to home games is free. After the Washington game this season, Adway didn’t get home until 1 a.m., and awoke for work less than three hours later. “I love it,” Adway said. “I’ve been watching him play since he was 8. I get excited. He tells me I jump and scream too much, but that’s part of being a fan. He tells me, `Mom, you’re not a fan. You’re my mom.’ But I’m a fan.” Carter experienced Adway’s adulation in person, as a guest speaker at the Touchdown Club. When others explained Adway’s enthusiasm was appreciated, Carter smiled out of the side of his mouth, nodded quietly and gave it his blessing. No complaints, no big deal. And there is the football side. The tough side. The mean side. The nothing-will-stop-him side. “Somebody told me since I’m a Gemini … Gemini’s are always two-faced,” Carter said. “In high school I’d walk up and down the halls, singing slow songs between classes, and then I’d get to football practice and that whole nice side would be gone.” UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said Carter is an “old-school” linebacker, always watching film, expecting to play through pain, and just being plain ol’ tough. UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said Carter is so tough, there was never a question whether the redshirt sophomore would play against California last week, 11 days after undergoing surgery to remove damaged cartilage in his knee. In fact, Carter said he balked at signing the authorization form for the surgery to be performed until he was assured by doctors about the procedure. If the damage was extensive, Carter wanted doctors to stitch him up without repairing anything so he wouldn’t miss a game. “Her being able to come and watch me play on Saturday is her only free time,” Carter said. “She goes to the Touchdown Club breakfasts every week, and I asked her, with her not driving, why doesn’t she just sit down and relax. “She said it was her only outing every week, and she enjoyed it so much, so I thought I never wanted to miss a game because she enjoyed it so much.” Carter hurt his right knee Sept. 8 against BYU. He said the pain, at times, was so severe he didn’t think he could finish practice, so he thought back to his Crenshaw days. “I’ve been in worse pain before and didn’t know what was wrong, and was playing on it,” Carter said. “We didn’t go to the doctor in high school. I’ve played when I couldn’t feel my shoulder, or something was hurting real bad every time I would hit something. “It was to the point one time where I thought there was something wrong with my head. Every time I hit somebody really, really hard, it felt like my ear was dripping blood.” UCLA receivers coach Eric Scott began coaching Carter in Pop Warner, and the relationship continued when Scott was an assistant at Crenshaw, where Carter had 42 sacks in his final two seasons. “This kid lives, eats, breathes football,” Scott said. “There is no other sport for him. There is nothing else. Everything he does, he does for football.” Scott said whenever a new player arrived to play Pop Warner, Carter was the litmus test. He would be called from across the field, and provide the coaching staff and team an indication whether the new player was tough enough. “I’ve been coaching Reggie since he was a little fat kid with glasses,” Scott said. “I never thought he would be a linebacker. He always wanted to play linebacker in Pop Warner, but it was, `No, get on the line.’ He hit high school and stretched, and he became a beast.” Carter said he latched onto football early on for one reason. “Just to hit somebody, where you can’t get in trouble for it,” Carter said. “It was fun.” Adway said she raised Carter, who has no siblings, with the help of her parents, three brothers and sister. Church also played a big role in defining her son off the field. Carter, a sociology major, said one of his favorite classes was on social welfare. Among the topics discussed that intrigues Carter is child abuse. But when asked about his career goal if football doesn’t work out, Carter is half-joking with his answer. “I’m still working on that,” he said. “They say you gotta have a backup plan, but I figure that kind of thinking is negative.” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! 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