Wearing the number 89 on his jersey, Austin Carr succeeds on the field, in his classes and on stage. Majoring in Philosophy with a minor in the Business Institutions Program, the Weinberg junior is a walk-on wide receiver for the Wildcats. Also a talented piano player, Carr won the 2013 Student-Athlete Talent Show with a medley of Kings of Leon's "Someone Like You" and John Legend's "Ordinary People." NBN sat down with the California native to talk about balancing his athletic skills and artistic talent.
Howdid you decide to pursue your football career at Northwestern?
As I was picking my colleges, I knew that I wanted to play football no matter what. I had some offers from some smaller Division II schools, Division IAA schools. But as I was looking through the schools I got accepted into, Northwestern rose to the top. As things worked out, I was given the opportunity to walk on here. They said they had a spot for me, and I came and visited and everything just worked out. I really liked it. Chicago is way cleaner than I thought. As a West Coast guy, Californians can be in their bubble, but once I got to Chicago and saw what it was like, visited campus, met the coaches, everything worked out from there.
How has your experience as a walk-on differed from a recruited player?
Nothing is handed to anybody, whether you're scholarship or not. I do think it's a little bit more of an uphill battle as far as earning athletic respect from your coaches and from your teammates. Here, it's really awesome because I think everybody has an equal opportunity from the get-go, and I've been living that reality as I've been getting play time. I feel that I've begun to prove myself. As a walk-on, it is a bit more of a battle to earn your stripes. Coaches talk about earning your scholarship, but for a walk-on it's kind of exciting because you can literally earn it while you go through college.
What has been your best memory while playing for the Northwestern Wildcats?
I'm not sure you can beat the Gator Bowl victory my freshman year. We went down to Jacksonville, and the stadium was electric. The fans were incredible. A little caveat to that would be the celebration in the locker room afterwards. I've never seen such full-bodied men so excited and so, just, gleeful after a victory. And we had this ongoing saying of "get the monkey off our back." It had been over sixty years since we had won our last bowl game, so we had this stuffed monkey and we ripped it apart in the locker room. Guys were cheering and everything.
According to my Google stalking, you're also a very talented singer, actor and piano player. How do you manage to fit these passions into your busy schedule?
Football obviously comes first, but back in high school I did theater. I sang in my church choir in high school. Here, playing football, it can be harder. I'm not as involved in theatrical extracurriculars, but I do play piano and I do sing still. In my free time, especially when I lived on campus, I would just go to Hinman or Plex and play the piano, and sing and practice and run into friends. I'd make friends who also played. Willard has probably one of the best pianos on campus. I really just found pianos and started practicing.
What can Wildcat fans do to help support their team this Homecoming weekend?
On that first weekend when our students were back on campus, when that student section was filled to the brim, that was incredibly encouraging. Obviously, the more purple in the stadium the more excited we get. There’s a special place in our heart for that student section, and when we score and we're in the vicinity, we're pointing up to the student section. If the student section is exciting and the student section's popping, that lights a fire under us. So, my favorite thing would have the student section be really loud and excited. My best memory from the student section is when we played Ohio State last year, when they had those foam finger things. I had never seen it get like that. If we could bring that back for all of the rest of the home games, that would be incredible. There's this excitement that's just contagious.