Former Benicia High great Austin Carr has been getting a lot of recognition after leading college football’s Big 10 in receiving this season.
Carr – a fifth-year senior at Northwestern University and Benicia High’s single-season leader in rushing yards (1,481), combined rushing/receiving yards (2,325) and total points (196) – was one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given to college football’s outstanding receiver. Carr didn’t win the award (it went to Heisman candidate Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma), but after leading the Big 10 in receptions (84), receiving yards (1,196) and receiving touchdowns (12), Carr was just happy to get invited to the College Football Awards Show in Tallahassee, Fla., broadcast nationally on ESPN earlier this month.
“That day was wild and a lot of fun,” Carr said. “It was quite an experience. I got to know Dede and Zay (Jones), who are both amazing receivers. Then I put on my best clothes to look good for the show. It was a humbling experience just to be among all those great athletes.”
Carr, a former walk-on and now a team captain at Northwestern, tied the school record with 12 receiving touchdowns this season. He was named to the All-Big 10 First Team, was named a Second Team All-American by USA Today and Sports Illustrated, and was also a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy, given to college football’s most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on.
Carr was so busy playing football for the Wildcats and studying for a Masters degree at the Kellogg School of Management, he hadn’t really noticed how big an impact he was making nationally.
“I’ve had a little time for it to sink in and catch up on the hoopla I ignored during the season,” Carr said. “It’s an honor and I have so many people to thank for making it possible.”
Carr still has a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks. Northwestern (6-6) takes on Pittsburgh (8-4) next Wednesday in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York. Carr’s senior class is trying to become the first Northwestern class to win two bowl games (the ‘Cats won the Gator Bowl in 2012).
“As a senior, it comes down to what kind of legacy your class is gonna leave,” Carr said. “Obviously we want to leave a legacy as winners. We’re definitely motivated. Pittsburgh has some big wins this year and they perform at a high level. We know we have to bring our ‘A’ game and that mistakes against them can be costly. I think it’ll be a hard-nosed game.”
Carr, who graduated from Benicia High in 2012, has also accepted an invitation to play in the East-West Shrine Game, a college all-star game for seniors taking place Jan. 21 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. The annual all-star game is a showcase for college seniors seeking careers in the NFL. More than 90 players from last year’s game signed with professional teams this past spring, and more than 70 made final NFL rosters.
Carr’s biggest contribution came last January when he donated peripheral blood stem cells – one method of collecting blood-forming cells for bone-marrow transplants – to an anonymous recipient suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The policy of Be The Match, the organization that arranged the procedure, requires a one-year waiting period before donors and recipients can meet. That anniversary is also Jan. 21, 2017, and Carr can’t wait to meet the man whose life he saved.
“It was an opportunity to love my neighbor as myself,” Carr said.