GRANITEVILLE — A single play might define what makes Midland Valley junior quarterback Daniel Carr the No. 3 selection for The Standard 10.
Beyond his 1,871 passing yards – good for second in the area as a sophomore – and 20 touchdowns through the air, beyond his 810 rushing yards with six more scores, the elusive ability he showed on one second-quarter play in a 34-27 loss to Strom Thurmond is what gets people talking about Carr.
With his team trading blows with the Rebels, Carr – who had been limited with a shoulder injury all week – took the snap on the Strom Thurmond 35-yard line and began to scramble. Facing a good bit of pressure right away, the then-sophomore ducked and dodged all the way back to his own 35-yard line before sprinting back toward the line of scrimmage, now 30 yards away.
As he approached the line, Carr picked his target and fired a strike to Kameron Brown, who caught it and took the ball in for a 35-yard score.
Being reminded of the play drew a laugh from Carr, who said self-preservation was the first priority.
“No. 1, don’t get hit,” he said. “No. 2, just keeping my eyes down field. All I have to do is extend the play so my receivers can make a play.”
On the other end of the score, Brown talked about the trust level he has with the “tremendous athlete” who will throw him the ball again this year.
“That’s kind of the best part of him,” Brown said of Carr. “I’ve seen him do things that I couldn’t explain.”
As much as he enjoys the benefits of such inexplicable feats from his quarterback, Midland Valley head coach Rick Knight said he’s never wanted to see Carr have to go to those lengths.
His goal for the year is to keep Carr a little better protected so he doesn’t have to make any great escapes.
“We like for that not to happen, the breakdowns and so on ... but it is a plus for him to be able to make plays,” he said. “In high school, it’s almost a necessity.”
In seven-on-seven work this summer, Knight has seen Carr work on passing from the pocket a little more without the obstacle of pass rushers. Still, the head coach is aware of the “security blanket” that Carr’s legs provide.
“He’ll figure something out; he’ll make a play,” Knight said.
Carr was far from an unknown coming into his sophomore year. After taking the reins for the Mustangs in the first half of his freshman campaign, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound signal caller, was also one of the Aiken Standard’s top 10 players to watch a year ago.
But while he was one of a multitude of returning quarterbacks in the area coming into the 2013 season, only he and North Augusta’s Trib Reece have starting experience heading into this fall.
“I feel like I have a target on my back,” Carr said.
Even with so many eyes potentially on him once the season starts, Carr hasn’t spent the entire offseason focusing on football. After averaging 14.6 points, 3.4 assists and 4.1 steals per game for the Mustang basketball team, he continued his work on the hardwood with his AAU team, the Columbia Hoyas over the summer.
He returned from a basketball tournament in Kentucky with the Hoyas on Tuesday, and now the time has come to turn his attention back to the gridiron.
“I kind of split time over the summer,” he said. “From here on out, it’s straight football, football, football.”
Even with Carr’s efforts divided so far this summer, Knight wasn’t concerned about his preparation. As he’s grown into his role as quarterback, Carr has developed a solid work ethic.
“His maturity is the biggest thing most people wouldn’t understand or see. He works his tail off,” Knight said, adding that Carr often found time to throw on his own between basketball commitments. “He’s not going to sit in the house; he’s going to be out here working.”
Knight also said that the team was lucky to get Carr in the backfield for so long. Since taking over the role of quarterback for good five games into his freshman year, the Mustang coaches already have 1½ years under their belts with Carr, and he’ll still have another year after this one.
“We feel fortunate,” said Knight, who also coached Daniel’s brother, Marquett. “We knew a long time ago that he was going to be our quarterback, but we don’t know for how many years.”
For the second full season, Carr will be working with Brown and his cousin, Dré Carr, who is a senior running back. With those three anchoring the offense, the quarterback is confident that Midland Valley can build on back-to-back playoff trips, both of which have ended after just one game.
“It gives us a lot more confidence in each other,” he said. “Having that experience is going to put us over the edge to make a playoff run this year.”
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University. Follow him on Twitter @ASJTimm.
This story is the eighth part in a series highlighting The Standard 10, the top 10 Players to Watch in the Aiken area for the rapidly approaching high school football season.
• July 21 — No. 10 DeAngilo Drayton, SB
• July 22 — No. 9 Dalton Swires, FC
• July 23 — No. 8 Tyree Stidem, ST
• July 24 — No. 7 Rashad Byrd, NA
• July 25 — No. 6 Malik Lee, SA
• July 26 — No. 5 Chad Gilchrist, ST
• July 27 — No. 4 Kameron Brown, MV
• Today — No. 3 Daniel Carr, MV
• Tuesday — No. 2
• Wednesday — No. 1
The order was determined by Aiken Standard sports editor Noah Feit, staff writers Jeremy Timmerman and Eric Russell, North Augusta Star news editor Scott Rodgers and staff writer T.J. Lundeen, as well as ASTV broadcasters Ed Girardeau and Ken Brace.
Staff file photo by Mike Adams Midland Valley quarterback Daniel Carr (1) is the No. 3 selection for The Standard 10.×