Football Notebook: Stories from Montre Hartage, Austin Carr

Max Gelman, Gameday Editor


Football


With many injuries to the Wildcats’ secondary this season, Montre Hartage has been asked to fill in since Day One. After some early struggles, he finally appears to be coming into his own.

The sophomore cornerback picked off Purdue quarterback David Blough twice last weekend, increasing his season total to four. It’s hard to imagine where Northwestern would be without Hartage this season. But, as he explained during Monday’s news conference, he nearly wasn’t a Cat.

“I was committed to Georgia Southern,” Hartage said. “But I was right out of church, I had just gotten home, and I think I was shooting basketball with my cousin and they had coach call me. I was like, ‘Hey I just got the call from coach Fitz. I think they’re about to offer me (a scholarship).’ … It was like a dream come true.”

Hartage’s experience will come in handy for the 2017 season as NU looks for some stability in the secondary.

A Knife-mare

Austin Carr has exceeded any and all expectations for the 2016 season. The walk-on-turned-captain leads all receivers in the Big Ten in catches, yards and touchdowns, an astonishing feat given that he started the year with just 23 receptions to his name.

Carr’s ascendence seemed to even surprise coach Pat Fitzgerald, who said his college career got off to a rocky start.

“The first time I got to know Austin was when he was on my injury report because he cut his finger with a butter knife, and wanted an MRI because he was concerned he may have hurt a tendon which might’ve hurt his ability to play the piano,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m like, ‘Who?’ Next, alright let’s go, get the MRI whatever you gotta do … We weren’t playing very well at receiver at the time so it was probably after a 78-drop practice where I was like, ‘Here we go again.’”

It’s clear Carr has gained Fitzgerald’s attention now. The receiver has risen to national prominence and was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, handed out annually to the nation’s top receiver. Seeing how Carr is just 144 yards away from setting a new single-season program record, he’s sure to have a pretty good case.

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Twitter: @MaxGelman

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