By Chris McCarthy/Editor
Tyler Carr soon will leave the Panther Pit for Toomer’s Corner.
The Southside High School incoming senior announced on Tuesday (June 24) that he will sign a football scholarship with Auburn University.
Carr’s verbal commitment ended an almost two-year recruiting process, as he considered offers from at least 20 Division I football programs, including several from the Southeastern Conference.
In the end, it came down to intra-state rivals Alabama and Auburn, with Carr informing no one – including his family and coaches – of his choice until he stood at a podium in the SHS library and donned an AU cap.
“To be honest, I really know [where he would sign] until yesterday at about 12 o’clock,” said Carr, who will graduate SHS in December and enroll at Auburn in January. “Both Auburn and Alabama are great programs, but I trust God to give me direction and I felt that [Auburn] was where He wanted me to be,” said Carr. “You really have to trust your gut feelings for a lot of things. I think that the whole [Auburn] coaching staff supported me, and I really felt at home. I’m just going to work hard and show them what I can do and improve on my skills and see where it takes me.”
A Class 5A All-State first team selection for the past two years, the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Carr helped the 2013 Panthers win their first region title in 33 years and gain a berth in the state semifinals. Southside went undefeated in the regular season and a won school-record 13 games. Along the way, Carr did not allow a quarterback sack.
Carr noted that he enjoyed his recruiting process but was happy to get it out of the way before the start of his final high school season.
“I’ve had a great time with it and it’s been a joy, but I really felt that I needed to focus on my team and try to win a state championship this year. I felt that getting this decision over with would be best for me and my family and the players and the coaches.
“I’m very thankful for the blessings that God has bestowed on me. I also want to thank my parents and grandparents and brother for being with me through thick and thin. I’ve also been blessed with a great coaching staff and teammates who’ve pushed me every day to be the best I could be.”
Academically, Carr said he is considering construction science and business as potential majors at Auburn.
“Tyler’s the epitome of what we try to do here, and I’m lucky to have a guy like him to help build our program,” said SHS head football coach Ron Daugherty. “I really can’t say enough about what he does for our program in terms of hard work and dedication. Tyler’s also an outstanding leader, both vocally and by example.”
Daugherty pointed to Carr’s quick recovery from an emergency appendectomy in November as an example of his toughness. The procedure caused Carr to miss Southside’s final two playoff games.
“Not that he needed to be driven any more than he already was, but missing those games gave Tyler just another reason to work hard in the offseason,” said Daugherty. “What I told Tyler at the time was that I wasn’t looking at it as losing a player for a playoff game; I’m looking at it as we possibly could have lost him. It’s something that I’m glad we caught when we did, because there’s no telling what would have happened if it happened during a game.”
Carr also played varsity basketball for the past three seasons.
“The amount of people that are here today and the amount of attention that this event is getting says a lot about what Tyler had accomplished as a high school football player,” said SHS head basketball coach Chad Holderfield. “But as much as Tyler had accomplished as a player, we’re so incredibly proud to have him as an example of what Southside High School is. Tyler has a great level of moral character, and he’s knows that he’s blessed to have the opportunities that he’s had.”