Austin Carr receiving praise on and off the field at Northwestern

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EVANSTON, Ill. - Austin Carr remembers a time in the not so distant past when the only interviews he did were with local beat writers at the Benicia Herald in his California hometown.

"Definitely different with lights and cameras and people who care about you more," noted Carr.

The season Carr had will do that.

He was the Big Ten Receiver of the Year - leading the conference in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns, a Third Team All-American, and a Biletnikoff Award Finalist.

Award Week was a blur of flights and car rides from the Big Ten Championship Game to Arkansas and then Atlanta.

"It was a hectic week. Sleep here. No sleep there. Joking with Lamar Jackson. Getting to know the other finalists. A pinch yourself moment."

That's a long road away from when Carr cold called Northwestern to ask about walking on to the team four years ago.

"Just seems like yesterday, walking into the meeting room," noted Dennis Springer, Northwestern's wide receivers coach. "He worked extremely hard on the field. I think the biggest piece of that is confidence and believing how good he could be, once he got a taste of it. He's embraced failing and learning from that, not getting too worked up by not being where he wanted to be."

But before Carr ever made an impact on the football field, he was known for something else on campus.

"This was probably my breakout to 'Oh, Austin plays piano.'"

Carr’s performance as a freshman won Northwestern's student-athlete talent show.

"My musical theater teacher heard it and was like, 'Austin, you need to practice a little more.' I had a lot of fun."

Carr has been making music on the field ever since, but for all his individual accolades it comes back to being a teammate.

"I was talking to dad about what I'll miss, and its gonna be the brotherhood. Nights in Kenosha and embracing the suck as Coach Fitz talks about. I hope to be a friend to all of them. You’ve got a friend in me teammates, if you’re watching this in ten years."

But Carr’s friendliest gesture was to someone he never met.

He missed a month of spring practice after donating peripheral red blood stem cells to an anonymous patient suffering from non-hodgkin's lymphoma.

"If I had the opportunity to save a life, why not take that?”

Whether giving or receiving, Carr carried a tune of achieving his greatest heights in 2016.

As for Carr's crescendo? He believes that's still to come.

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