By Victor Ochieng
U-M’s Will Carr is a prime example of someone who has made up his mind to do what he’s passionate about. For a good part of his life, Carr lived football. It got into him – he loved it – and would grab every opportunity that availed itself so he could have a moment in the game.
Carr’s efforts earned him a spot at Michigan as the 1996’s All-America defensive tackle of the year. He would later have short spans in NFL training camps before spending some time in the Arena Football League between 1999 and 2005.
The former defensive tackle, desiring a change of sorts, later left football behind and opted to pursue a career in business. Carr opened a business in Dallas, and got busy looking for clients for his Will-O apparel firm. Although the business was doing well supplying for retailers and merchandizing for Dallas independent school district, Carr says it was more like a job for him.
“It became a job,” Carr said Thursday from Ann Arbor, where he is in his second year as a student assistant with the U-M football team. “And I don’t like jobs.”
That’s when Carr decided that wanted to go back to football since football had never been a job to him.
Things started falling into place when Carr’s former position coach at U-M in the 1990s Brady Hoke called him over to take up a coaching assignment. Coaching the camp gave him great satisfaction and he decided not to ever look back.
“It was heaven,” Carr said. “To have an ability to work with kids again, it just hit me. It was heaven. It felt good. It felt right. It wasn’t anything that was forced. Things took off from that point.”
Carr did a commendable job at Arizona Western College in 2012-13, strengthening the team’s defensive line. One of his most outstanding students at the AWC, Randy Gregory, moved to Nebraska, where he emerged as one of the leading college football defensive players.
That stint earned him a permanent place at the U-M, having been awarded scholarship by NCAA as a full-time student and coach. It was a chance for him to earn the degree he failed to complete about 20 years earlier.
“It wasn’t that hard,” he said, saying he’s more serious with his studies now. “I was focus-driven. To me, what may have seemed hard is what had to get done.”
As a student, he’s posted good performance. On the other hand, working under the current coach Jim Harbaugh, they’ve been able to transform the team into a very productive one over the past two seasons.
The coach admits that transitioning from being a player to a businessman and finally to a coach has provided him with great lessons. He’s working hard, understanding that his 10-year-old son William is watching him.
He expects his son to watch him graduate next month.