SAN DIEGO, Calif. – A father’s praise should always be taken with a grain of salt. It’s hard to remove the bias. Nonetheless when asked, Darren Carrington will offer up his assessment of where his son stacks up.
Darren Carrington already holds one Pac-12 offer.
“He’s already way better than me. It’s not even close.”
If that statement is even in the realm of possibility, it is high praise. Carrington spent eight years in the NFL as a safety. He spent four of those years with the San Diego Chargers and was a major part of the Chargers run to Super Bowl XXIV. Now he has joined up with a former Chargers teammate, Horizon Christian Academy head coach Chris Johnson, to help coach his son Darren Carrington Jr.
Carrington Jr. is not yet heavily recruited. Hailing from a small San Diego private school he holds one offer from Washington State. Despite some impressive film, most colleges seem to be waiting until the spring to evaluate and offer the 2013 athlete.
Even with one offer under his belt, he is far ahead of where his father was. Carrington Sr. walked on a Northern Arizona out of high school. He ran a 4.9 40-yard dash as a freshman before running a 4.43 for NFL scouts.
In similar fashion, Carrington Jr. hasn’t even scratched his potential yet. Between his sophomore and junior seasons, Carrington grew two inches. Now standing at 6-3, his growth plates are still open and doctors say he could still add another inch or two. Already Darren’s head coach – another NFL veteran – has high praise.
“Darren is off the charts athletic,” Johnson said. “You see it on the film. We’ve never had anyone here with better hands. I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone with better hands in the country. I go as far as saying that.”
Carrington’s film is speckled with one-handed catches, making the difficult look routine. At Horizon Christian Academy, it has become routine
“The stuff you see on film is the stuff we see daily,” he said. “The one-handed catches, Mossing people on film. I noticed it for the first time in junior high school. He’s a really good route-runner, he understands leverage, understands coverage. He can find the hole and when the ball is down the field, nobody plays the ball better. He’ll go up and get it.”
Markel Byrd likely has the most upside as a cornerback.
As natural and impressive as his receiver skills are, Carrington’s first offer actually came as a cornerback. Carrington has stated that he’d be willing to play anywhere in college but currently prefers wide receiver.
Along with Washington State, the 6-3 standout is getting serious interest from Oregon and Coach Scott Frost, UCLA, Oregon State and Arizona State. The interest continues to rise and Carrington wants more. He hopes to camp this summer at Oregon and possibly Georgia. Though Georgia interest hasn’t come yet, he hopes some southeastern interest is on the way.
“I just want to get to a school down there in that side of the country,” said Carrington Jr. “In 7th and 8th grade I used to follow Florida a lot. Tim Tebow, that was my guy.”
Carrington also listed LSU, Miami and Florida State as other schools that he is hoping to hear from in the future.
Despite Carrington’s best efforts in 2011, he could only do so much without the help of his quarterback and fellow defensive back Markel Byrd. Byrd spent almost half of his junior year sidelined with injury but is right alongside Carrington as far as an undiscovered talent.
Though Byrd would like a shot at quarterback on the next level, his ability at defensive back is likely what college coaches will find most appealing. Even when on offense, Byrd’s athleticism under fire is what is most impressive.
“We call him Captain Chaos,” said Coach Chris Johnson. “When the play breaks down, that’s when he’s at his best. He reads coverages extremely well, he understands coverages extremely well but when the play breaks down, he’s not afraid to make a play.
“On the defensive side of the ball there’s probably only been one other kid here that reads that three-step, five-step as well as him playing off coverage. He does a really good job of reading patterns and jumping patterns.”
Currently Byrd is garnering some interest from Arizona State and Washington State but has yet to pick up his first offer. As coaches see him healthy this spring and see him perform, that will likely change.
Though he never leaves the field, Byrd has been dominant on both sides of the ball when healthy and is looking to put that ability on display the spring on the camp circuit.
Along with Carrington, Byrd is also hoping to land some southeastern interest along with the usual Pac-12 suspects.