Ignored by combine, Northwestern’s Austin Carr revs up at pro day

The Big Ten’s leading receiver watched the NFL Scouting Combine on television.

Austin Carr swore that he was curious how his friends would perform, and that he “wasn’t pouting” about being excluded from the league’s gathering of elite prospects earlier this month.

“Honestly, by then, I’d put it behind me,” he said.

He had his chance Tuesday to show the combine what it missed. In front of 30 NFL teams — including multiple members of the Bears’ college scouting staff — the Northwestern receiver ran a 4.59 40-yard dash at the Wildcats’ pro day.

Northwestern's Austin Carr didn't get invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. (Getty Images)

“Finally,” he said. ‘It’s been a long time waiting. I knew I’d put up some good numbers.”

Carr said he was happy to focus on football after the pro day.

“It’s a sigh of relief,” he said. “It’s time to become a football player again, not a track star, and I can’t wait.”

The former walk-on certainly proved the former as a senior, setting a school record with a Big Ten-best 1,247 receiving yards. He led the conference with 90 catches and 12 touchdowns, too.

“You know, there’s certain things in your life you can control and can’t control,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said. :”It was totally out of his control to get invited. What he did last year from a body of work I think is incredibly impressive.”

Carr had only 23 career catches before last season but was a stalwart special teamer earlier, Fitzgerald said. That could earn him a NFL roster spot.

“In a league full of diva receivers, this guy’s going to be a grinder,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s going to be a blue-collar guy.”

Carr points to his eight catches for 158 yards against Ohio State, whose cornerbacks have been praised during the draft process — “The better they do, the better I look,” he said — and credited the East-West Shrine Game for helping him get a better handle on NFL playbooks.

Being left out of the combine put added stress on his Tuesday performance, but it was welcome.

“Even if there was pressure, I like pressure,” he said. “I kinda like that — third and long, throw me the ball.”