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IU lands former top-20 recruit in USC transfer RB Stephen Carr

Deland McCullough just helped the Hoosiers land another intriguing playmaker

Washington State v USC Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

On the heels of one of the best seasons in program history, Indiana is enjoying a fruitful run through the transfer portal.

And for their latest pickup, the Hoosiers can once again thank new running backs coach Deland McCullough.

Former USC running back Stephen Carr, a former five-star recruit who was ranked as the No. 3 back in the 2017 recruiting cycle, announced Sunday night that he is transferring to IU for his final year of eligibility. It’s another win for McCullough, who has already recruited three of his sons to IU since returning to Bloomington in February.

And it’s also another potentially big win for IU, which has now landed two former top-100 recruits in the span of four days after former Auburn defensive end Jaren Handy announced his intention to transfer to Indiana on Wednesday. In the 247 Sports Composite rankings for 2017, Carr slotted as the No. 20 overall prospect in the country while fielding offers from Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Louisville, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and several other high-major programs.

“I want to thank USC, Coach Helton and the entire coaching staff, the faculty and all my teammates over the years for believing in me, helping and allowing me the opportunity (to) live out a childhood dream of being a Trojan,” Carr wrote in a message posted to Twitter. “Playing in the Coliseum is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done in my life. Being able to play for and with my Trojan Family, gave me the best experience and understanding of what the phrase “FIGHT ON” is truly about. Also, I’m proud to be a Trojan Graduate! It’s all been a BLESSING. This experience has showed me more than I could’ve imagined and words can not explain. I will never forget what was accomplished here and I will never forget the great energy that moves through the campus of USC.

“However, with my last year of eligibility - I have chosen to transfer to Indiana University and finish my college career playing to my full potential and helping IU to a Big Ten Championship. #GoIU #LEO”

The 6-foot, 215-pound Gardena, Calif. native played under McCullough as a freshman in 2017, logging 363 yards, 5.6 yards per carry, three rushing touchdowns, and 188 receiving yards. His yards per carry and 11.1 yards per reception from that fall remain career bests.

Carr dealt with injuries early in his run at USC, suffering a torn plantar fascia that limited him as a freshman. He later nursed a herniated disk that limited him prior to his sophomore season. From there, Carr turned in intriguing, yet uneven production as a mostly part-time player in the backfield. In four seasons, he totaled 1,319 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging 5.0 yards per tote. Carr appeared in all six of USC’s games in 2020, averaging 3.8 yards a carry and scoring two touchdowns.

It also probably didn’t help Carr that USC went through three running backs coaches during his time with the program, though IU will hope a reunion with McCullough — who left IU to join USC during the spring of 2017 — will enable him to return to the production that highlighted his encouraging freshman year.

In Bloomington, Carr will be able to compete for the bulk of the hand-offs in a backfield that recently said goodbye to top back Stevie Scott, who signed with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent last month. IU returns scholarship players Sampson James, Tim Baldwin and David Ellis at the position, though Carr’s arrival may lead Indiana’s staff to move Ellis back to receiver. The Hoosiers also recently signed two running backs in its 2021 class, bringing aboard three-star recruits David Holloman and Trenten Howland. With Carr now in the fold, IU could also plan to safely redshirt Howland, who is coming off an ACL injury suffered last fall. Walk-ons Davion Ervin-Poindexter, Charlie Spegal and Ahrod Lloyd could also enter the mix.

Carr is the latest Power Five transfer to pick IU, following Handy, defensive lineman Ryder Anderson (Ole Miss), receiver D.J. Matthews (Florida State) and offensive lineman Zach Carpenter (Michigan).