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Top 2023 NFL Draft prospect Jalen Carter pleads no contest to reckless driving, racing charges

Top 2023 NFL Draft prospect Jalen Carter entered no contest pleas on Thursday to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing, per a statement from his attorney that was obtained by NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero.

Carter, 21, was sentenced to serve 12 months of probation, pay a $1,000 fine, perform 80 hours of community service and complete a state-approved defensive driving course, according to attorney Kim T. Stephens.

"In entering his plea, Mr. Carter chose not to contest the charges lodged against him by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department in order to resolve this matter in the most efficient manner possible," Stephens stated, in part. "With entry of his plea, the State is forever barred from bringing any additional charges against Jalen Carter for conduct alleged to have occurred on January 15, 2023."

Carter was arrested March 1 on the charges, which stemmed from an investigation into a fatal Jan. 15 car crash, and he was released from custody the same day after paying a $4,000 bond. Police had said their probe found that Carter and Georgia recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy were operating vehicles in a manner consistent with racing early that morning. LeCroy and Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock died in the wreck. Bulldogs offensive lineman Warren McClendon was among those injured.

"The investigation, the warrants taken for misdemeanor traffic charges, and the Accusation filed against Mr. Carter in the Athens-Clarke County Municipal Court demonstrate some key facts that should debunk false information that spread online and in the media after Mr. Carter's arrest," Stephens stated. "First, Jalen Carter's actions on January 15, 2023, did not cause the tragic accident involving Chandler Lecroy, Devin Willock, Victoria Bowles and Warren McClendon."

Stephens also stated that Carter "never left the scene of the accident without being told that he could leave" and "had not been drinking alcohol and was not under the influence of alcohol or any other illegal substance at the time of the wreck."

Carter is No. 5 in NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah's most recent ranking of the top 50 draft prospects. He struggled at Georgia’s pro day on Wednesday, weighing in nine pounds heavier than he did two weeks ago at the NFL Scouting Combine. All 32 teams attended Carter's pro day, including Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus and GM Ryan Poles. Poles said on Thursday the Bears, who currently hold the No. 9 overall pick in the draft, will bring Carter in for one of their pre-draft prospect visits.

Carter emerged as a force in 2021, playing alongside 2022 first-rounders Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt on arguably the best defensive line in college football. After being named a second-team All-SEC selection in 2021, Carter earned first-team Associated Press All-American and all-conference honors during Georgia's run to a second straight national title last season.

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