The Patriots like versatility in their players. Undrafted free agent signing Austin Carr is plenty versatile, but he just plays wide receiver these days.
Carr’s well-roundedness instead lies in his background in both academics and the arts. As a high-schooler, his sprints on the field were matched with sprints to rehearsal for musical theater. In college, he opted for finger surgery shortly after walking on to the football team because he feared a butter knife incident that cut his finger could hinder his piano playing.
OTHER PATRIOTS UFAs
- Brooks Ellis has a pretty good fallback plan if football doesn't work out -- medical school
- Harvey Langi ready to prove why Patriots showed him the money
Yet when he was on the field, Carr was a stud for Northwestern. With 90 catches for 1,247 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior, the 6-foot-1, 194-pounder was named Big 10 Receiver of the Year for 2016. He also wrapped up a degree from the Kellogg School of management, where he was named an Academic All-American.
Looking back on his high school days in Benicia, Calif., Carr remembers being spread much thinner. The son of two musicians, Carr played Beast in his school’s production of “Beauty in the Beast,” and was also in its production of “Into the Woods.” He balanced that into a schedule that also included, football, basketball, piano and poetry.
“They clashed a lot,” he said. “Huge credit to my coaches, who let me kind of balance both. Especially in the winter/spring, you have basketball, then the spring musical. It was crazy. I was kind of a do-it-all, do-all-that-you-can guy and my coaches let me. Somehow, I made a way.”
Carr didn’t do any theater in college, though he did star in student-athlete talent shows. Now, after going undrafted, he’s actually seen his life somewhat simplified by jumping into the biggest challenge of his career.
“It’s actually amazing, it’s amazing what life is like just focusing on football,” he said recently at Gillette Stadium. “I don’t have any papers, I feel like the sky is the limit in my improvement, not having to run regressions at Kellogg, or having to write philosophy papers at Northwestern.”
NFL.com’s pre-draft scouting report described Carr as a “big slot receiver who is best left to working on the first and second levels in routes that are more fluid and less angular.” He’s joining a team that’s relatively stacked at receiver -- specifically with players capable of putting up big numbers out of the slot -- so he’ll have to but his newfound time to good use.
“It is very weird. And then, you know, I’m just plucked out of my community in Chicago, I’m back here in Foxboro,” he said. “I love the city, but I kind of have a lot of time on my hands to study the playbook and focus on football.”