Sophomore tailback Robert Carr ’05 is revising the Yale record-books with a breakout season.
Carr’s 96 yards on 21 carries against Princeton put him at 1008 yards on 212 attempts this season, surpassing the single-season sophomore rushing record of 962 yards set by Dick Jauron ’73 in 1970.
Though an injury forced him to miss five games freshman year, Carr has amassed 1,370 yards in his first two years with the Elis, good enough to keep him in line to challenge Rashad Bartholomew’s ’01 career mark of 3,016 yards.
“Robert [Carr] has a completely different style from Rashad,” head coach Jack Siedlecki said. “[Carr] has enough speed to break some big plays and enough shake to make defensive backs miss. Rashad could have four or five nothing plays and then break the big one with his speed.”
Though Carr is arguably one of the best tailbacks Yale has had in recent memory, he does not dwell on his stats.
“The records don’t faze [Carr],” defensive end Don Smith ’05 said. “Going into this season, his main goal was to win the Ivy League title. His numbers aren’t as important to him.”
Cornerback James Beck ’05 agreed.
“Rob is completely unselfish and will do whatever it takes for the team to win, whether that’s getting 30 rushes for 200 yards or getting 10 rushes for 50 yards,” Beck said.
A low center of gravity, tremendous speed and an intuitive ability to evade tackles make Carr a volatile presence on the field. Because of those tools and 11 years of experience at tailback, Carr — a 5-foot-7-inch, 185-pound Baytown, Texas, native — was a highly touted Ivy prospect in 2001.
“Texas football is extremely competitive and it is played at a high level of intensity,” Carr said. “Football was huge in Baytown and I feel that it prepared me for college football.”
Upon arrival at Yale, Carr was thrust into action in his rookie season as a replacement for injured running backs Pat Bydume ’04 and Jay Schulze ’03. Carr made an immediate impact with a 45-yard touchdown run in his debut against Cornell. He became just the second Yale freshman tailback to score a touchdown since 1946.
Carr continued to bolster the Eli ground game after a groin strain sidelined him for half the season.
“Even though he looks for positives in everything, that injury was pretty hard on him,” Smith said. “He always wants to be on the field contributing.”
Even with the injury, Carr wrapped up his freshman year as the third leading rusher on the team with 362 yards on 80 carries. This season Carr has been unstoppable.
“He’s been a big-time playmaker for us,” quarterback Jeff Mroz ’05 said. “Good things happen every time he touches the ball because he’s a fighter. He keeps his legs pumping even after the initial hit.”
In a 50-23 Eli win over Cornell this September, Carr had 235 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries, breaking running back Rich Diana’s ’82 individual rushing record of 222 yards, earned against Princeton in 1981.
“I feel that every play can go for a touchdown and have that expectation every time I touch the ball,” Carr said. “My offensive line is doing well and the best way to reward them is to have success.”
Carr followed the Cornell game with a 38-carry, 219-yard performance in a 28-19 victory over Holy Cross, becoming the first Ivy League sophomore to rush for 200 yards in back-to-back games and just the seventh player ever to do so in the Ancient Eight.
“He has a great sense of vision that helps him maneuver through the gaps in the defense,” fellow tailback John Ryan ’05 said.
Though his offense receives all the attention, Carr is also a solid pass blocker in the backfield.
“He understands all the blitzes and takes great pride in picking up all the different things people throw at us,” Siedlecki said. “We have been much more of a threat to run the ball out of the shotgun because we can leave the running back in at the fullback spot and get excellent pass blocking as well as a run threat.”
Teammates also recognize Carr as a mentor and a great sideline personality.
“I honestly look up to Rob as an older brother,” rookie kick returner David Knox ’06 said. “He has definitely aided in my transition to collegiate football. He always motivates this team, whether it’s his high-pitched yells when we make a good play or the humorous advice he gives when things go wrong.”