USC RB Stephen Carr ready to show a different side of his game – Press Enterprise

USC RB Stephen Carr ready to show a different side of his game – Press Enterprise

Stephen Carr believes, in his three years at USC, he has established himself as a shifty running back, capable of making people miss and catching the ball out of the backfield.

So Carr wants to show people a different side of himself as a senior.

“Personally I just want to be more physical this year. That’s really the only thing on my mind,” Carr said Tuesday. “Just physicality this year. That’s my only goal.”

Carr’s time at USC has been marred by injuries. Ankle issues plagued him as a freshman and sophomore. As a junior, he injured his hamstring and missed three games.

But the USC coaches have noticed something different about Carr this fall. He’s added 5-6 inches to his vertical jump. And he’s showing the physicality that he demanded of himself, leading head coach Clay Helton to describe this as the best fall camp of Carr’s career, starting with USC’s first day of pads last week.

“Stephen set the tone for the entire day with his physicality and running,” Helton said. “He’s a guy that can make you miss, as we have seen, in open space. On that day, it was, ‘I’m gonna pound the ball if it’s between the tackles and I’m gonna show you my physicality.’ And that’s what I’m seeing from him right now and applauding him.”

Carr spent quarantine training with USC receiver Tyler Vaughns, adding some track workouts to the usual football training to “relearn how to run again” following the hamstring injury.

But Carr also went back to film to refine his game. He examined his old clips, seeing holes he missed by being too clever with his footwork. He also watched footage of New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara and former Trojan Ronald Jones II, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“He’s a huge role model to me. The way he hits the hole is in stride, you know what I mean, so I try to take after his game a little bit,” Carr said.

Added running backs coach Mike Jinks, “A testament to him, he’s gone out and applied it. It’s been really impressive, to be honest with you, to watch him move around this camp.”

Carr is just a piece of USC’s running back picture. There’s fellow senior Vavae Malepeai, currently nursing his own hamstring issue. Sophomore Markese Stepp is close to being back to normal after ankle surgery, Jinks said, and sophomore Kenan Christon has added 10 pounds to his frame since last season.