Devon Carrington's willingness to draw a paycheck is telling, considering the comfortable surroundings he's used to. His high school, Hamilton High, was built barely a decade ago with all sorts of state-of-the-art facilities. (The football team occasionally dons an alternate third jersey.) His parents, who met once upon a time at Ohio University, have each found success in the business world. Nearby Chandler residents have included Donovan McNabb and former Arizona Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson.
The Hamilton Huskies last fall completed the first undefeated and untied season in school history, and it was Carrington who helped lead them to a second straight state championship. Defensive coordinator Lane Reynolds cited Carrington's ability to work hard and adapt as a major reason for the accomplishments.
"I'd describe him as very coachable," he said. "He was a guy who, as a younger player, could really light a guy up under the right circumstances but had a tough time with him one-on-one in the open field. He's improved his tackling abilities tremendously."
Young Devon – rhymes with "Evan" – played cornerback on the varsity as a sophomore, but then moved to a more mobile part of the secondary two years ago. He thrived at what he called his "free-range" safety spot, grabbing the attention of many college suitors.
The 6-foot-1, 186-pounder was in turn very discerning in his response. Arizona, Arizona State and Cal swung and missed. Oregon offered only a half-hearted attempt. "Even their uniforms couldn't convince me," he admitted. "All nine of them." Washington State tried and failed to woo him. High school head coach Steve Belles played quarterback at Notre Dame behind Tony Rice and Rick Mirer; The Fighting Irish attempted to land the hard-hitting defensive back
Ultimately, the prize chose the competitor that pursued him the hardest. The Cardinal will now benefit from a proven run and pass stopper who's been timed at 4.52 in the 40-yard dash.
"Stanford had me sold right away," Carrington said. "I just love what's going on there. The team has made such an improvement the last few years, and it's only going to get better. I love what Coach Harbaugh is doing. They were calling me every other day. That really flattered me."
His allegiance as a football fan can be described as terrible, as in the towel. Carrington loves the Pittsburgh Steelers, a loyalty imparted on him by his mother, who grew up and still has family in Pittsburgh area. His dad – a former high school basketball star whose bad knees kept him from playing college – hails from Rochester, N.Y. There's also extended family in both Southern California and the Bay Area. Come the holiday season, there's no shortage of destinations for the family to choose from.
"We'll flip a coin," he said. "I love going back east. My grandparents and aunts are there, and the food's great: chicken, ribs, everything. And I love being in the snow. You don't see too much of that in Arizona."
Carrington considers mental toughness a big key to his improved abilities as a tackler. A similar mindset was required in the classroom last fall. While his football teammates went home after lunch, the Huskies' star safety labored through a full day of six classes, several of the Advanced Placement variety. Just call him the headstrong safety.
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