Dec. 18, 2012
By Jeremy Hawkes, SDA Media Relations
**This is Part One of a two part feature series on ASU senior cornerback Deveron Carr. Part one focuses on Carr as an athlete and as a father while Part Two - which is available here - features Carr's academic and community service achievements.
It's not a stretch to say that competing as an NCAA Division I student-athlete is comparable to having a full-time job. The hours spent on schooling and studies combined with all the time that goes into practice, travel and competition can provide even the most studious 18 to 22-year-olds with their fair share of headaches.
For many, however, the trials and tribulations that come with taking on such a task are worth every second. Just ask Arizona State University senior cornerback Deveron Carr.
There was a point in the South Phoenix native's life where he never thought he'd ever even make it to college. Now, he's graduated from Arizona State, working on his graduate degree, is one of the most proactive community servicers in the athletic department and helped to anchor an ASU secondary that led the Pac-12 in pass efficiency defense and pass defense and is ranked in the top-15 nationally in both.
Oh, and he's done it all while raising his three-year-old daughter.
So when Carr concludes his Sun Devil playing career on Dec. 29 in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, he will leave behind a legacy as more than just a football player. He will be remembered as an athlete, a scholar, a gentleman and a father.
While there is more to Deveron Carr than just being a football player, it is on the field that his story at Arizona State begins.
Carr came to the Sun Devils as a highly regarded athlete out of perennial Arizona prep power, Chaparral. A physical freak boasting a 4.34 40-yard dash while benching 255 pounds and squatting 400, Carr brought the size and speed necessary to be a solid cover corner at the DI level and was rated the No. 5 cornerback in Arizona by ESPN Scouts, Inc., while being rated the No. 20 overall Arizona prospect by SuperPrep.
When ASU offered him a scholarship, he noted that no other school really had a chance. He wanted to compete for his hometown school and nothing was going to change his mind.
Carr got on the field immediately as a freshman, starting in three of the 11 games he appeared in on the season. Late in the year, Carr felt an unusual "pop" in his shoulder while making a tackle against UCLA. The trainers came over, told him it was dislocated and popped it back into place.
Carr returned to the field a few plays later, only to have the shoulder come out again by a wide receiver slapping his arms away. It was then that it became clear that it was something a bit more serious, eventually being revealed as a torn labrum that would require surgery.
"It was heartbreaking at the time because I had never really been injured before and I kind of felt like Superman on the field - like I was untouchable." Carr remembers.
Just five games into his sophomore year, Carr tore his shoulder for the second time and was knocked out for the season after starting in the first five games.
The injuries certainly set back his development as a football player but Carr never got too down on himself, knowing that doing so would stunt his ability to ever fully recover.
"You're never going to play at the next level if you are worried about your shoulder or getting hurt again," he said. "You are all in or nothing and in the end, (the injury) just made me appreciate the game more and never take anything for granted."
"You are all in or nothing and in the end, (the injury) just made me appreciate the game more and never take anything for granted."
Carr returned to start every game during his junior season but was part of a secondary that struggled as the season went on, finishing near the bottom of the Pac-12 in pass defense and pass efficiency defense as the team dropped six of the final seven games of the season, including a rout against Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
The team's struggles in 2011 prompted the administration to make a change and Todd Graham was brought in to be a head coach.
Graham brought in a new system and new coaching staff and ASU defensive passing game coordinator Chris Ball noted that Carr was one of the first to hop on board with the new culture that was being instilled.
"He is just someone that is consistent every day," Ball said. "The way he handles practice and his other responsibilities - you don't see that our of 21 and 22-year-olds every day."
Graham has gone so far as to publicly name Carr the team's most improved player on several occasions this season and the numbers don't lie as he will finish the team third in pass breakups in addition to the complete 180 the team has made in the defensive passing game that has seen the squad post numbers that rank 11th nationally in pass efficiency defense (105.16) and 12th in passing defense (178.83).
"It's a blessing to hear Coach Graham say great things about me," Carr said. "He's a tough guy and has made me a better man character-wise and held me accountable to being better."
Like most football players, Carr hopes to eventually end up in the pros, remembering as a child when he told his grandma that when he grew up to play pro ball he "was going to buy her a car".
But as far as most young football players go, his ambition to make it at the next level has nothing to do with selfish desires and just about everything to do with a young lady by the name of Izzabel - his daughter.
When Carr's daughter was born three years ago, he was just 18 years old.
"It was kind of not real until she was here," he remembers. "I really wasn't nervous until she was (there) and then I was kind of lost."
Carr said he never expected to have a child at that age and that it took him and his family for a loop.
"My mom cried and my grandma cried but my dad - well, he's a father," Carr said. "He told me, `Hey man, you've got to step up and do what you've got to do and take care of yours'."
Carr has his daughter every week, from Thursday through Monday. During the football season, this can be trying as that time of the week is chalk full of game preparation and games themselves. As such, Carr credits his family and friends for being there to spend time with her and help support him as he puts in his work "on the job".
"A lot of people today don't make it because they lack support so it means everything to know that my family supports me," he said. "I couldn't tell you where I'd be today with the support from my family my friends or even the fans (of the football program)."
And as far as Izzabel goes, football may break apart the physical bond at time, but there's no doubting that she is her father's child.
"Our relationship is key, even though I don't get to spend a lot of time with her at times," he says. "But when I come back, it's like I never left. I might step out of the house and she'll start to cry, but when I come back she runs over and jumps right on my leg. She loves her dad."
And because of his daughter, Carr is the first to tell you that he may be a little "weird" when you consider him against most in his demographic. He is a father first and everything he does, he does for Izzabel.
"He's very impressive when he's around his daughter and he's very good with her," said Ball. "He's a guy that does everything right. He's not out there running around town; he's taking care of business."
And that's a feature that doesn't go unnoticed by his teammates either.
"Off the field, Deveron's a responsible person because he has a daughter he needs to take care of," ASU senior safety Keelan Johnson said. "He doesn't do a lot of partying or going out late. He just takes care of his responsibilities."
And Carr will credit his daughter for keeping him grounded and always working hard. He knows that at the end of the day, he wants to be able to support her and his family down the road and that the only way to achieve that is through persistence and dedication in the classroom, in the community and on the football field.
"For those that have never been a parent, it's hard to explain how you feel becoming one," Sr. Associate AD for Student-Athlete Development Jean Boyd said. "When you are responsible for another life, it gives you a great sense of responsibility and opens your heart more."
Carr realized early that having a child at 18 means you can't live the life a typical 18-year-old can live. As such, he's done well to organize himself and stay grounded to his goals.
"You have to be really dialed in with the way you spend your time," he says. "The choices that I make today not only reflect on me but they reflect on my child and if I make a bad choice, then I'm hurting my family."
"If I didn't have any of this [life] but I had my daughter, I'd be just fine."
Carr says that Izzabel "makes him want to do everything" and says that as she grows up, he wants her to be able to model herself after him and know that everything he did was to put her and his family in a great position and that all his "choices in life are driven through her."
"I know what love is because I have my daughter," he says. "I know what that unconditional love is that you never want to let go and you'll do anything for them."
"If I didn't have any of this [life], but I had my daughter, I'd be just fine."