Former Riverhead football star heads to prison

10/04/2011 6:46 PM |

Two years ago, Malcolm Cater was Suffolk County’s top football player. On Tuesday, the former Riverhead High standout was sentenced to prison.

Mr. Cater, 20, will serve one to three years in an upstate prison after pleading guilty to burglarizing three apartments last November on the Syracuse University campus.

Syracuse City police said property taken in the burglaries, including a 42-inch TV, were found in Mr. Cater’s apartment shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday. Investigators reportedly tracked Mr. Cater’s footprints in the snow to his on-campus flat.

After learning of the arrest, Orange head coach Doug Marrone dismissed Mr. Cater from the program.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Malcolm Cater, pictured here, was surrounded by family members as he signed his letter of intent with Syracuse University in February 2010.

Mr. Cater played in all 12 regular season games for the Orange in 2010, no small feat for a freshman. He recorded 13 tackles and one sack. Just as he did while playing for Riverhead High School, the 6-foot-1, 212-pound Mr. Cater gained a reputation at Syracuse for ferocious hits. He was in line to takeover the important middle linebacker position this season, according to

Mr. Cater, formerly of Wyandanch, had a troubled childhood before a stray bullet hit him in the back of his leg during a fight at a house party there in 2007. He was then sent to live at Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch in Riverhead while he went to high school in Riverhead. That’s where his fortunes seemed to turn, culminating in the announcement of a full scholarship to the prestigious Syracuse University upstate in the spring.

While at Riverhead, he won the Hansen Award, given annually to the top high school football player in Suffolk County.

Mr. Cater pleaded guilty last month to three counts of third-degree burglary involving three separate break-ins last December at apartments on Small Road and Farm Acre Road on the SU South Campus, according to, which posted a video of the sentencing Tuesday.

Reporting by Michael White