Son of former Panther looks to make own name

Michael Minter Jr. has always had a name to live up to.

His father, Mike Minter, starred for 10 seasons with the Carolina Panthers and was a major part of back-to-back national championships at Nebraska.

Now, the elder Minter is coaching his son as part of a First Assembly football program that is 24-3 in the last two-plus seasons and has appeared in back-to-back state championships.

Michael not only wants to prove he can live up to his father's reputation, but also that he can be a major part of the tradition at First Assembly (1-1).

"It's hard sometimes because everybody looks at you like you have to be as good as your father," said Michael, who starts at both running back and safety for the Eagles.

"But I'm looking forward to proving I can be my own player. I want to prove that I can be just as good as or better than him."

Michael got off to a great start this season, rushing for 195 yards on 11 carries with three touchdowns in his debut as the Eagles' starting tailback. The 15-year-old did it all on a sprained ankle that he injured on the games' first play.

"He's a player, for sure," said his father after watching him lead the Eagles to a 61-6 win over Victory Christian in the season opener.

"I don't think I knew quite how good he was. But as good as he looked, he's still got a long way to go."

Minter had a much more subtle game during the Eagles 24-6 loss to Charlotte Christian, rushing for 45 yards on 19 attempts.

While the future is bright for the Minters, things haven't always been so easy between the father-son combination.

Last year, after Michael played in only one varsity game as a freshman, the elder Minter decided that his son didn't have his priorities in order.

As a result, he held Michael out of the rest of the games, in what turned out to be a dream season as the Eagles went a perfect 13-0 and won the NCISAA Division II state championship.

"In our family, if you're not getting everything correct, in the classroom and in life, you're not playing football," said Minter. "I told (Michael) that football is a privilege, not a right. I know it was tough for him to sit and watch, but I think he learned a lot about life."

Michael, who now stands 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, agrees.

"I wasn't doing what I needed to do as far as school and grades," he said. "My dad helped me get everything right. It wasn't always easy, but I know he wants the best for me."

Both Minters are excited about what the future holds. Michael already runs a 4.4-second, 40-yard dash and can bench press 200 pounds. He is also a sure-fire Division I recruit once schools are allowed to start officially recruiting him next season.

"The most impressive thing about (Michael) right now is his ability to explode," said Minter, whose son was among the fastest players at Nebraska football camp this summer.

"That is what football is all about, the ability to stop and start, and be able to get from 0 to 100 in a short time. Michael is a lot bigger, faster and farther along than I was as a high school sophomore."

Minter was also a standout running back in high school. At Lawton High School in Oklahoma, he rushed for nearly 1,600 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior.

Minter played defense for the rest of his career. Michael, who starts at the same positions on offense and defense, said he prefers the spotlight of the offense.

"I like defense, but getting to be a running back and scoring touchdowns is what I really love," said Michael. But no matter what Michael does, he wants to prove that he is the best, as he inherited his father's competitive nature.

Minter says he hates to lose at anything.

"He's definitely a little bit cocky and confident, and hasn't figured out how to contain his emotions, yet," said the 36-year-old.

"I think you need a lot of confidence to compete at a high level. I'd much rather have to turn down the fire, than to try and turn it on."

If Michael's first game was any indication, the future should be even brighter. His goals are to become among the best of the best.

"I want to rush for 2,000 yards and help lead our team to another state championship," he said.

"In the long run, I want to go to Nebraska and play football just like my father."