Northwestern’s Austin Carr Can Catch NFL By Surprise

By Chris Emma–

EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) — He wasn’t ever the biggest or fastest receiver on the field, but it’s difficult to deny the production of Austin Carr.

The NFL did just that, snubbing him of an invitation to its Combine despite compiling 90 catches last season and becoming a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Carr took it all in stride.

“I didn’t pout,” Carr said. “It was something I had to put behind me and come out and perform. You can never dwell on the past.”

Carr’s chance to perform came Tuesday at Northwestern’s pro day. He ran an unofficial 4.54 in the 40-yard dash, as several scouts had timed, and tested mostly in the middle of the pack for receivers at the Combine. Then he took the field for passing routes and showed what he does best — catch the football.

Carr arrived at Northwestern as a walk-on and embraced his role on the scout team as a freshman. He earned roles on special teams as a sophomore and recorded seven catches in the process. In 2015, he hauled in 16 passes and two touchdowns while still playing a role on special teams.

Then came the breakout senior season for Carr, in which he posted 90 catches for 1,247 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was the Richter-Howard Big Ten Receiver of the Year and a finalist for the Biletnikoff, which honors the nation’s top receiver.

“He’s a self-made guy,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “This wasn’t a five-star recruit. He was a guy that walked on, really dedicated himself in the weight room, running routes. He had great trust and chemistry, and he was willing to do the dirty work.”

Added Carr: “I’m just grateful.”

Though Carr’s measurables and times don’t stack up with the NFL’s best, his production in the Big Ten makes a strong case for the NFL.

Carr posted 11 receptions for 130 yards and two scores against Michigan State in October. He tallied a career-best 12 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown against Wisconsin in November. And the film he wants the NFL to see the most comes from his eight-catch, 158-yard performance against Ohio State and a secondary with first-round talents.

“He killed everybody,” Northwestern teammate Anthony Walker said of Carr.

The rise of Carr was quite the story in college football last season, and Carr has his production from 2016 to boast a case for the next level.

Carr has the ability to enter the NFL and immediately make an impact on special teams while finding a role in an offense.

Just ask his head coach — Carr can catch a team by surprise.

“He’s not a diva in a league full of diva receivers,” Fitzgerald said. “This guy’s going to be a grinder, a blue-collar guy.”

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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