BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana has never been a football destination for five-star running backs, but that all changed Sunday night when former USC standout Stephen Carr committed to Indiana.
Carr, 6-foot, 215-pound running back from Gardenia, Calif., played four years at USC, the first with current Indiana coach Deland McCullough as his running backs coach. With a fifth-year of eligibility available, that McCullough-Carr connection won out, filling a big need on Indiana's depth chart. He entered the transfer portal two weeks ago.
He announced his decision on Twitter on Sunday night.
“I want to thank USC, Coach (Clay) Helton and the entire coaching staff, the faculty and all my teammates over the years for believing in me, helping and allowing me the opportunity (to) live out a childhood dream of being a Trojan. Playing in the Coliseum is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done in my life. Being able to play for and with my Trojan Family, gave me the best experience and understanding of what the phrase “FIGHT ON” is truly about. Also, I’m proud to be a Trojan Graduate! It’s all been a BLESSING. This experience has showed me more than I could’ve imagined and words can not explain. I will never forget what was accomplished here and I will never forget the great energy that moves through the campus of USC.
“However, with my last year of eligibility – I have chosen to transfer to Indiana University and finish my college career playing to my full potential and helping IU to a Big Ten Championship. #GoIU #LEO”
Carr has been an explosive back at times during his career, but he's also dealt with several injuries, He had a torn plantar fascia injury as a freshman, and a herniated disk issue derailed some of his sophomore year. During his four seasons, he rushed for 1,319 yards and 12 touchdowns and averaged 5 yards per carry. Last year, Carr played in all six of USC’s games, averaging 3.8 yards a carry and scoring two touchdowns.
Indiana's running game was all about Stevie Scott for much of the past three years, so Carr will have a chance to help immediately. Sampson James is the most experienced player in the IU running backs room, but his contributions have been limited during his first two seasons. He's had one great game, helping the Hoosiers beat Purdue in double overtime in 2019.
Sophomore-to-be Tim Baldwin Jr. showed some flashes as a freshman in 2020, and David Ellis contributes as well, especially in the passing game. The Hoosiers also recruited two running backs this year, three-star recruits David Holloman and Trenten Howland.
Carr is the fifth transfer to Indiana from a Power 5 school this offseason, joining Jaren Handy (Auburn), defensive lineman Ryder Anderson (Ole Miss), receiver D.J. Matthews (Florida State) and lineman Zach Carpenter (Michigan).
Carr was ranked No. 20 in the 2017 recruiting class, and is Indiana first five-star football recruit. He's the highest rated recruit now, passing Bloomington South's Dasan McCullough – Deland's son – who committed to Indiana two weeks ago. Dasan's two brothers – Deland II and Daeh – also joined the Hoosiers in what has been the best recruiting window in Indiana football history.
It's Indiana's goal to improve the running game in 2021. Even though the Hoosiers had a breakthrough season a year ago, they were still just 12th in the Big Ten in rushing yards. Carr's experience will be a boost. He's also a fine receiver out of the backfield, making 57 catches for 421 yards at USC.
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