It’s baffling to me. It really is. How is Darren Carrington always open? He is by himself so much on the field you almost wonder if anyone has been assigned to defend him. It’s almost like he steps through a hole in time or jumps over a wrinkle that gives him just enough yards of separation or enough time to where the defense forgets he’s on the field.
Two years ago he made a huge catch against Michigan State where he came across the middle and there wasn’t a defender in the television frame. Last year when he made his first appearance of the season against Washington he seemed to always find himself with a couple yards of space. Against Arizona State the defense literally forgot to guard him and he streaked up field to catch a pass from Vernon Adams in the end zone. Against Cal and Stanford he found himself wide open multiple times because the defense botched how they pass receivers off.
Defenses make mistakes. It’s just going to happen with how sophisticated offenses are now. But Carrington is the beneficiary of so many mistakes that I just can’t chalk it up to coincidence. Maybe it’s because he seems a little goofy when he plays. Or maybe he intentionally looks a little goofy? Maybe he has a secret or just wonders why very few others know how to do it.
We’ve seen him tiptoe the sidelines to make catches that 95% of college football receivers wouldn’t be able to make. He catches the ball out away from him phenomenally but whenever we saw Vernon Adams throw a jump ball down the field Carrington didn’t catch the ball at the highest point. He jumped for the ball, that’s for sure, but he caught the ball with his body right in the breadbasket. It’s that type of play where you just wonder how he did it because it seems like such a sandlot version of playing the position but he's doing it against some of the best players in college football.
If there is ever a time to just throw a ball up and see what happens you might as well throw it in Darren Carrington’s direction. If a ball was every thrown out of the television frame I would have bet money at any point that the target was Darren Carrington. He makes plays he shouldn’t in ways that he shouldn’t but somehow everything seems to work out just fine. The way he plays it looks like he has zero risk anxiety. It’s a sort of fearlessness that doesn’t exist in spite of fear or by overcoming fear. His fearlessness comes from a lack of any fear or maybe the inability to fear.
Mel Kiper Jr. has Darren Carrington ranked as the third-best underclassman wide receiver in the 2017 NFL Draft. Carrington has already made the decision to stay another year so you know he’s going to be going all out this year trying to not only win games but to improve his draft stock. On Saturdays his mind is not going to already be on Sundays.
We get a full season with Darren Carrington this year. (Fingers crossed) With only six games Carrington was a stat leader on last year's team. While Oregon has had many great receivers the last few years there hasn’t been a standout that excels at an elite level. I don’t think there’s a player where you can look back and say that he stood out above all the rest, zero questions. This year is loaded at the skill positions, so much so that I don’t think there are enough plays to get everyone their fair share of touches. How the touches get split up will be something to watch as the season goes on and with football being a meritocracy I can easily imagine Carrington getting a lot more touches as the season goes on. His level of play will demand them.
On a team full of fantastic athletes that have speed, strength, and agility, Darren Carrington separates himself from everyone else by his ability to make plays. He’s going to make a couple plays during every big game where you just wonder how did that. He’s going to do things that nobody else on the field is capable of doing whether it be a catch or getting open. But that’s what Darren Carrington does best; separate himself from others in ways you just don’t understand.