USC football progress report: Stephen Carr looking to revive potential

Stephen Carr of USC football. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy)
Stephen Carr of USC football. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy) /

Stephen Carr was a star recruit, but his USC football career has been limited by injury issues.

Stephen Carr enters his senior season with one last chance to make good on the promise of his five-star talent coming out of high school.

He has appeared in 29 games with just three starts, rushing for 1,153 career yards and 10 career rushing touchdowns. Is there more on the horizon?

Carr is next up in Reign of Troy’s progress reports ahead of the 2020 season…

USC football progress report on Stephen Carr

What USC got as a recruit:

Carr was the top-rated prospect in USC’s class of 2017 and one of two five-star players in the haul.

The 247Sports composite ranked him 20th nationally, third among running backs and third in the state of California.

At the time, Carr was seen as the next great rusher for the Trojans, meant to follow in the footsteps of Ronald Jones II.

The reasons were certainly there. He was strong, quick and productive. As a senior at Summit High School, he rushed for 2,123 yards and 31 touchdowns while averaging 9.1 yards per carry. He also added a threat in the passing game with 466 yards receiving on 20 receptions, scoring five of them.

What he’s accomplished:

Carr looked the part as a freshman working in the rotation behind Jones with Aca’Cedric Ware and Vavae Malepeai. He earned an All-Pac-12 honorable mention while finishing second on the team with 363 yards and three touchdowns.

Unfortunately, that first year also held the signs which would go on to hold back his production over the coming years. He missed four games with an ankle sprain that season.

MORE: Predicting USC’s depth chart for 2020

In 2018, he underwent back surgery in the offseason and looked slow to shake off the rust. after gaining 384 yards on the ground he suffered yet another ankle sprain and missed the final three games of the campaign.

Hopes of returning to form in 2019 didn’t take shape. He served in the rotation but a seven-carry, 94-yard performance against Washington was his most promising outing. Two weeks later he pulled a hamstring and sat out three games. All told, he managed 396 yards on 72 carries.

What to expect in 2020:

Carr has been stuck in the 300-yard range through three years with USC. The Trojans hope 2020 can break the trend.

He did have 11 carries for 87 yards in the penultimate game of the 2019 campaign against UCLA. Another promising sign from the final three games of that season? He had a touchdown in each.

Given USC’s Air Raid attack and the presence of three other backs capable of splitting the carries, Carr’s opportunities to take over the offense are likely to be limited.

CHECK OUT: Ranking USC’s Top 5 running backs since 2000

On the other hand, he is the most sure-handed of USC’s running backs, making him a potential weapon to deploy out of the backfield. There should be a role for him. Any doubt about his ability to have an impact stem from uncertainty around his injury history.

Where he goes from here:

At one point, Carr looked like a potential high draft pick. But given his injury record and limited production, his stock coming into 2020 is low.

It was at least low enough to keep him from entering the NFL draft pool after his junior season.

Things could change with a big 2020 campaign of course. But it may have to be the difference between going undrafted and a Day 3 selection.

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