Rifle’s Carter Pressler commits to play football at Colorado Mesa University
The bloodline at Colorado Mesa University for the Pressler family runs deep. Carter’s great uncle Wayne Jensen, his father Rod and his brother Brooks all attended the school and played sports.
Carter’s father and brother both urged him to attend Ottawa University in Arizona to play basketball after his senior year concluded at Rifle High School. Carter’s dream was to receive a scholarship to play basketball in Grand Junction.
The majority of the house insisted, but one ride cleared things up.
“Carter and I just took a drive alone and Carter looked at me and said, ‘Mom, I’m not ready to leave my family,’” Carter’s mom, Erin Pressler said. “And he wasn’t afraid to discuss that.”
During his senior season, Carter had the same problems his older brother endured. A torn ACL in his third game of the year against Glenwood Springs spelled the end of a season – at least everyone thought.
After talking to doctors, Carter made the decision to continue playing with a less-than-healthy knee. After each tweak of that knee, through the tears and pain, he continued and finished a final year worthy of being considered a college prospect.
The potential for collegiate football showed itself a year earlier though.
Against Delta, through the pouring rain, Carter intercepted a third-quarter pass and returned it for a touchdown – a play which ended up being the turning point in his career. They went on to win the game 34-7 after trailing 7-6 at halftime.
“Delta’s always so tough and when we went down to Delta, it was pouring rain – maybe as hard as I’ve ever seen it rain in Western Colorado,” Rifle head coach Damon Wells said. “We were having a tough time dealing with exchanges and stuff because the ball was so slippery.
“The energy change – he changed the outlook. And I think one of the things that a lot of people don’t pay attention to is, when Carter did that, it was sheer joy for everyone on the sideline.”
Erin watched and hopped out into the pouring rain in celebration.
“It was raining so hard you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face,” Erin said. “I tried to stay out there as long as I could, and I finally gave up and went to the car.
“I’ll never forget that. Right when I turned on the windshield wipers, all I could see was Carter running towards me and I got out of the car – It makes me teary-eyed thinking about it. I got out of the car, there’s all these people next to me and I scream, ‘Oh my god, that’s my kid! Oh my God, that’s my kid!’”
From that point on, the path for Carter swapped from one of a high school athlete to a possible college career. A meeting with former Rifle State Champion, Casie Dunlap, also added to the change.
Dunlap came to practice during Carter’s season and simply asked, “Have you ever considered playing college ball?”
The confidence boost from the exchange carried through much of the year.
“(Junior year) was my first time playing cornerback, I really didn’t know what to expect,” Carter said. “Then after that, I had the feel, I felt like I had everything on lockdown – keys, reads, all of that.”
After the talk, Carter went on to intercept eight passes in the next two years and deflect seven passes.
Heading to CMU, Wells sees a player who has the skillset to stand out.
“I think that the way the game is played now lends itself to those athletic kids that could run and that are smart and selfless as well,” Wells said. “When I say you can do whatever you want with Carter, I mean he’s not a kid that has to be a boundary corner or has to be a field corner.
“You can move him (between) positions and he’ll do anything you ask him to do. And the beauty is that there’s the same level of expertise and level of care and effort wherever you move him around.”
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