In return to the Big House, the Carr family recognizes the moment
For all the hundreds of games and competitions that C.J. Carr has played in his young football career, none rivaled the one that took place on Friday, Aug. 27. When Carr stepped onto the historic field on South Main Street, the Big House, it was the first time that he ran onto those sidelines as a player. While his illustrious family bloodlines have given Carr the chance to step on the field as a spectator, he spent his Friday pacing the sidelines with the hopes of securing the Hornets their first win of the season.
Carr says he and his teammates entered the game “treating it like any other game, we're extremely excited.” Yet, he admits that looking up into the vast stands on Friday was a powerful moment, playing at a stadium that shaped some of his earliest memories. With his grandfather, former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr looking on, he hoped to impress spectators, but insisted that a team win is the most important goal.
Lloyd stated “looking on as a spectator is different than being a coach... I just am excited for the opportunity C.J. got.”
Through his tone, I sense that CJ Carr has zeroed in on the upcoming season, and not the impending questions about his recruiting process. While Carr has gained increased attention from many colleges, including Michigan, Michigan State, and Notre Dame, his core focus is on winning a state championship. Lloyd has made sure to tell C.J. that “you’re just a sophomore who has made one start, make sure to enjoy these moments with your teammates.”
However, questions still loom about the upcoming two quarterback system that the Hornets will employ this year. With Carr joining talented veteran Quarterback Larry Robinson, head coach Joe Palka plans on platooning his two gifted signal callers. While this experiment is unusual, Carr emphasizes “Larry and I are both extremely excited, we know that if one quarterback is shaky, the other will have his back.”
Interestingly, Lloyd Carr employed the same two quarterback system while at Michigan. During the first half of the 1999 season, Carr split snaps between Drew Henson and Tom Brady. Eventually Brady played so well that Carr was forced to play the future six-time Super Bowl champion. Looking back on it, Coach Carr recalled that “while I’m sure it was not easy for Drew and Tom, the two of them were both such great teammates and leaders that they made it work.”
Similarly, C.J. Carr states that while he understands the dual system was an adjustment for his teammates at the start of training camp, the team “had a great week of practice, and we all have each other's respect.”
There is no question that Carr and Robinson have a good relationship, and that will go a long way as the Hornets pursue another SEC Red title.
As Carr thinks about his time spent in the Big House, he knows that there will be tears shed from his parents and grandfather at the game on Friday. From taking their little boy to the evening Michigan games as a child, to watching him compete on a big stage, time has flown by. While Carr acknowledges that carrying his family’s legacy is important, he knows that there is no pressure for him to attend Michigan. “My parents are not biased in my college choices, they fully support my decisions,” Carr says, “but I have heard funny comments about well if you went to Michigan...” With his family watching him from the stands that he once stood in, Carr is aware of the surrealness of the game. However, he and his teammates were able to pull out a thrilling win against Hudsonville, and they hope to carry that momentum into the rest of the season. Lloyd stated that “I was so impressed with Saline’s resolve and can’t wait to watch the rest of their season play out.”
With Carr at the helm, and with talented weapons alongside him, the Hornets hope to play at another famed stadium - Ford Field - later this year, in the state championship game.