Carr growing on and off the field
Cornerback’s transformation pays off on many levels
In a nutshell, Deveron Carr represents everything that Arizona State football has been since joining the team in 2008. A local product who struggled to meet lofty expectations early in his career, Carr has made a dramatic turnaround on the field, assuming the leader role on defense while helping guide the secondary towards becoming one of the more outstanding defensive units in the country.
With just one more game left to play in his Sun Devil career, the cornerback acknowledges the growth he's undergone at ASU, both on and off the field.
Deveron Carr committed to the Sun Devils following then Head Coach Dennis Erickson's first year in Tempe, which featured a 10-3 record and a Holiday Bowl appearance. The Scottsdale Chaparral standout was touted as being a future playmaker for the secondary before starting slowly out of the gate.
Carr played sparingly in all 11 games as a freshman and before starting the first five games of his sophomore season. Unfortunately, he suffered a season ending shoulder injury, stunting his early progress.
With his shoulder healed, Carr found himself back in the Sun Devil starting lineup as a junior, filling in for the then injured Omar Bolden, but was challenged by newcomer Robert Nelson in this year's spring practice and was often criticized for his lack of aggressive play, as he struggled to overcome the effect of his injury.
Following the team's embarrassing bowl game defeat and the dismissal of Erickson, Todd Graham emerged as the new head coach, immediately instilling discipline and accountability into the program, something Carr took to heart.
With a renewed focus and a final chance to showcase his talents, Carr cemented his role as the starting cornerback heading into 2012, giving credit to Graham for his turn around.
"He has most definitely had a great effect on me," Carr said. "He has impacted my career. I feel like he gave me opportunities and the chance to be a great player at the next level with everything that he has taught me and the discipline. As far as my level of play this year, I feel like it has tremendously stepped up.
"At first, I feel like I was labeled around here as not being a physical corner and now I'm labeled as a physical, lock down corner and one of the most improved players on the team. So I feel like he has had a great effect on my career here at Arizona State and hopefully in the future as well."
Carr has helped transform a Sun Devil secondary that was placed near the bottom in 2011, to one of the premier units in the country in 2012. Last season, the Sun Devils ranked 108th in the nation in pass defense, allowing their opponents just over 273 yards per game through the air. This year though, with nearly the same returning secondary in place, Arizona State finished the regular season 12th best against the pass, yielding just 178 yards.
"Work, film study, being smart players, coming together as a unit and staying disciplined," Carr described as the reasons for the team's improvement. "Always remembering what we're supposed to do, in and out. Just knowing our plays and always expecting something. Just listening to our coaches and not acting selfish, and just playing as a team."
All of which was on display in the team's final game of the regular season against rival Arizona. Playing on the road in a rowdy Arizona Stadium, Carr was flagged twice in the opening quarter for a pass interference penalty, which resulted in a Wildcats touchdown and tested the resolve of the Sun Devil defense once more.
"In the first quarter, really like the first five minutes, I feel like the refs were trying to pick on me a little bit and throwing the flag," Carr recalled. "I feel like that was strictly to try to get me out of my game, get me out of the way that I play my position, which is physical at the line, shooting the hands, getting into those guys before they can even get into the five steps of running their routes. They wanted to get me out of my game so they could go over the top and score a big one but I felt as long as I stay calm, shook my head and smiled it off and continue to remember my technique, I was going to be successful.
"I just listened to my coaches and stayed calm, and at the end of the day, as a defensive unit, we were successful."
The Sun Devils rallied behind the effort of their defense in the fourth quarter, which began with Carr recovering a Matt Scott fumble, quickly turning the momentum of the game in their favor. The ensuing possession led to a Marion Grice four-yard touchdown run and a victory that Sun Devil players and fans won't soon forget.
"I feel very honored to get that win, and not just for me, but especially for the coaches," Carr remarked. "Their first year here at Arizona State and they come out 7-5 with the win, top it off with the win against UofA, and a chance to go to a bowl game play against a big time team like Navy. Like I said, I'm honored. I'm glad we won that game and it means a lot. That's a game that I'll never forget.
"Whether I go on and play for another five years or ten, that's a game that I'll always remember."
With the win, the Sun Devils improved to 7-5, the most wins the team has had since Carr arrived on campus, and secured the chance to play in this year's Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco. The Sun Devils now have a chance to atone for the humility they suffered in last season's bowl defeat and notch eight wins in a season, which is just how Carr would have scripted his final collegiate season.
"This means a lot, especially being a senior," he said. "The last way you want to go out as a senior is a loser, and I feel like right now we're winners. I feel like this is one of the best teams I've ever played on, with unity and everybody being unselfish and playing together with hard word and discipline. Just joy and excitement at practice, joy and excitement in the game; as a whole, it's one of the better teams I've played on."
The Midshipmen present a unique challenge for the Sun Devils, featuring an unorthodox offense that the Sun Devils will be seeing for the first time this season. Despite the complexities ASU will face in trying to defend the tripe-option threat of Navy's offensive attack, Carr stressed the importance of sticking to the same fundamentals Coach Graham and his staffed have preached to their players all year.
"They're a physical team, and being that they are the Navy, they're going to play hard," Carr noted. "With the triple option, the biggest challenge of the day in that game is, who's going to out work who and who's going to stay assignment sound and be disciplined and make tackles."
A win would be a final send off for the player who helped revitalize the Sun Devil defense in 2012, overcome scrutiny and adversity to become a leader on and off the field. Having already graduated, Carr, the father of a three-year old daughter, understands the importance of his growth, not just on the field, but also once he steps off campus, easily making somebody you can root for.
"The biggest personal growth that I can say, for me, has been maturity," Carr concluded. "Being that I had a daughter my second semester here in college, I went from being an 18 year old kid to being a more mature individual, getting everything done on time. Nobody is ever having to tell me to do this or do that or having to tell me when I need to be here or there; I just know. I followed the guidelines and all the rules and feel like it was a piece of cake. I feel like I made college easy for myself by being disciplined and mature about everything.
"My plan after graduation is most definitely to give it a shot to play big time and make it work and provide for my family. I'm going to try to be a leader in the community and talk to kids and get their heads straight and try to persuade them to do positive things in life instead of negative things."