Southern California recruiting has been critical to Stanford Football throughout its history, but that geography extends beyond greater Los Angeles. The Cardinal have recruited a San Diego County player onto their roster in each of the last four years: inside linebacker Mike Silva (2002), kicker Derek Belch (2003), free safety Aaron Smith (2004) and outside linebacker Clinton Snyder (2005). That streak stays alive in '06 with the commitment this past weekend of Chula Vista (Calif.) Eastlake High School senior Stephen Carr.
The 6'3" 207-pound athlete is just that - an athlete who can play a variety of positions in college. He is primarily known in San Diego as a wide receiver, where he grabbed 38 catches for 795 yards as a junior while scoring eight touchdowns. The two-way standout and All-Mesa League performer also notched 98 tackles at safety. This year he is also running the ball on offense, while his defensive position has switched to cornerback. As a testament to his quickness and athleticism, Carr is Eastlake's "shutdown corner" asked to defend the opponent's best receiver each week. To date, you can count the number of receptions completed against him on one hand. And you won't come close to using your thumb.
"We have a pretty good defense," Carr comments. "We are not as explosive an offense as last year, but our defense is stronger. We're number one in the county."
"We graduated our starting quarterback and some good backs," he adds. "I've played a lot more on special teams this year - punt return and kickoff return. I try to put our team in the best position I can."
Operating behind a sophomore quarterback, the Eastlake offense started the season well behind the pace of their prolific 2004 output. Carr suffered statistically, with 210 receiving yards through the Titans' first five games. It did not help that the senior receiver injured his ankle in a 24-14 win against Helix, also sitting him out the next week against Marian Catholic. But Eastlake and Carr are in a groove today, sporting an 8-1 record and eight-game winning streak. They also own a perfect 4-0 record in the Mesa League, with a highly anticipated showdown tonight against Bonita Vista (8-1, 4-0) for the conference crown and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Eastlake has hammered their last four opponents by an average score of 56-3. Carr is getting healthy and putting up 2004-esque numbers. Last week he caught six passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns, plus a 45-yard punt return score. The week before, he hauled in eight receptions for 154 yards and two scores. His season totals now stand at 674 yards and seven touchdowns on 34 catches, for a 19.8-yard average.
"The offense has started to pick up, and we're getting the chance to pile on numbers," Carr says.
Washington State was the first school to offer the San Diego standout, as a wide receiver. Carr has had multiple Cardinal coaches jockeying for him to join their position group.
"Coach Hackett has said I'm in their athlete category. They have told me that I could play multiple positions," the recruit relates.
First dibs go to wide receivers coach Tucker Waugh, who likes the big and physical wideout.
"He's told me that he likes how I go across the middle - how I'm not afraid to get hit. Also how I run after the catch," Carr reports. "My favorite player is Terrell Owens. I model my work habits around him. He's physical and moves DBs around."
One look at the 6'3" athlete, with his broad chest and shoulders, helps you understand why he could also play safety, linebacker or tight end in the Pac-10. Stanford fans and coaches alike will have to wait until next fall to find which position suits him and the Cardinal best.
One question asked about this commitment surrounds his speed. Carr tested at the Los Angeles Nike Camp last April coming off a knee injury, which allowed him to run a mere 4.9 in the 40. Come his high school's preseason camp in the summer, he was running a 4.7 and has continued to focus on improving his speed since.
At the same time, Carr focused on academics in the classroom, holding down a 3.86 weighted (3.57 unweighted) GPA at Eastlake High School and scoring a 1740 on the new SAT. That work paid off last weekend, when he received the phone call he had awaited for months.
"Stanford called me Saturday morning to tell me that my application went through finally. It was accepted and they offered me," Carr recalls. "From what they kept telling me, they said when I was accepted that I would be offered. So it wasn't a total surprise. But when I got that call, I was ecstatic."
With the unusual schedule of a Thursday game this week in Eastlake's regular season finale, that left open the possibility for Carr to take an official visit Friday through Sunday to Washington State. That trip was on the books until the recruiting game changed for Carr last weekend.
"I don't sign the Letter of Intent until the First of February, but I verbally committed to them," he says of his Stanford Saturday decision. "I was supposed to visit Washington State this Friday, but I'll probably stay home."
Carr has yet to officially visit The Farm, but he has thrice seen the campus in an unofficial capacity. Twice during the summer he made trips to Stanford, and he returned in early October to watch the Cardinal in their Pac-10 opener against Oregon. It was a Stanford defeat, but the recruit remained as high as ever on Stanford.
"I love the campus - it's very beautiful. I love the surroundings, and the people are really nice," he told The Bootleg after the October visit. "I wasn't really disappointed in the game. I could see all the aspects where I could help. I watched Mark Bradford - he's a really nice receiver... I like Washington State because it is a quiet town and you are treated like a celebrity. But I like Stanford better. As soon as Stanford offers, that's where I'll probably commit."
A man of his word, Carr took mere moments to follow through on those intentions once he held his admissions acceptance and a scholarship offer from Walt Harris.
"I love the surroundings, and there is no better education and football team you will find out there," he offers of his Cardinal commitment. "The coaching staff is fantastic, too. They have been very welcoming to me."
Stephen Carr is Stanford's fifth public verbal commitment in the 2006 class, though the first from the Golden State. His two offers came from the Cardinal and Washington State, with additional recruitment from UCLA, Cal and San Diego State. Tom Quinn (San Diego County, Orange County, and Arizona) and Nate Hackett (recruiting coordinator) were the lead recruiters for Stanford in pursuit of Carr.
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