Fontana (Calif.) Summit sophomore running back Stephen Carr saw an offer he couldn’t refuse.
The 6-foot, 205-pound tailback was offered a scholarship by USC three weeks ago, and after taking another unofficial visit to campus with his family, Carr decided commit to Steve Sarkisian and the Trojans Monday night.
“I talked to my coach, Darnell Hewitt, and he gave me some good advice before I took my last visit to USC,” Carr said. “He told me that my decision should be based on how I feel about a school. It shouldn’t be about other influences and what other people want.
“I talked to my parents about, and I felt like committing to USC was the right move for me. It was just a natural feeling. USC is close to home and my family really had a great time meeting the coaches. I just wanted to think about it and make sure this was what I wanted to do.”
Academics and life after football are always a major part of the Trojans’ recruiting pitch. While Carr is still a way away from focusing on a specific academic pathway, he does know that he doesn’t want to venture to far away from the game he loves.
“I’d like to get my master's degree at USC, but I’m not sure what I will major in,” Carr said. “I’m thinking I would like to stay around the game of football, so maybe sports medicine or something like that.
“USC is a top school academically, so I know whatever I choose to major in I will get a good degree.”
The early commitment for Carr comes as a relief, but also more pressure to perform up to the standards of Tailback U.
“I think committing early takes the pressure off of me with worrying about recruiting, but at the same time, it’s going to push me harder to prove to everyone that I am a USC level commit,” said Carr. “I have to represent and let people know that USC doesn’t just offer any chump off the block.
“I have to play hard everywhere I go and let people know they offer some real players. Even when I got that offer, it just motivated me to go harder. You want to meet those expectations everyone has for a USC level commit.”
Accompanying Carr at the Trojans spring practice Thursday was his mother. While his family has been to campus before, this was their first experience being around the football team in a football setting.
“It’s crazy for my family,” Carr said. “They love USC and they all live in L.A., so most of my family can come see me play. USC is a big school nationally and the name means a lot to people. Just watching the team on the feel was exciting.”
While Carr grew up in Gardena and has most of his family in Los Angeles, he moved to the Inland Empire to play high school football. It was a move that risked exposure to colleges.
“It just makes me work harder to get noticed,” Carr said. “I feel like in the I.E., the competition is just as good. There’s a lot of talent out here, and most people think that L.A. kids are more talented than the kids out here, but I don’t think that’s true.”
Carr models his game after DeMarco Murray, an NFL running back who made headlines in free agency this spring by trading in his Cowboy’s star for an Eagle’s wing.
“Demarco Murray is a hard runner and he’s pretty fast,” said Carr. “I see myself as the type of running back that can run you over, but at the same time make a move to get around you in the open field.
“That’s how Demarco Murray runs. There’s no way to win against him because he’s dominating at all aspects.”
Carr has played running back since the second grade, but his first exposure to recruiting came during a seven-on-seven tournament for Ground Zero as a cornerback.
“I saw some of my friends playing corner, so I though I’d give it a try,” Carr said. “It looked fun, trying to lock receivers down. I tried it, and it went well, but I just feel more comfortable playing running back. USC wants me as a running back.”
But with two years to go before he signs a letter of intent, a lot can happen to derail his commitment to USC. One major factor would be what running backs USC recruits this cycle in the class of 2016.
“The way I look at it, if I went to be a great player, I have to work for it no matter what,” said Carr. “USC is the school I want to go to, so I just have to work and get in a position where no one starts over me.”
With UCLA offering Carr a scholarship just hours before his trip to USC a few weeks ago, the Bruins are one of several teams the sophomore tailback may still entertain interest from.
“UCLA is there now, and it’s close to home,” Carr said. “I would like to see Washington and Colorado because they were recruiting me pretty hard. LSU is a school I’d like to see as well. I’ve still got time to go through the process, but I’m happy with my commitment to USC.”