Scrolling through the comments, a 〽️, 🐶 and 🍀 are there.
The college football and basketball fans are everywhere — especially on Instagram.
Oak Park rising senior Maliq Carr is hoping to play both football and basketball at the next level. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound wide receiver doubles as a bruising wing on the court.
Every time the 17-year-old posts a photo from an official football visit he gets plenty of input from fans. The 〽️is from the Michigan contingent, the 🐶 is Georgia, the 🍀 is Notre Dame, and so on.
The most rabid fan base?
“Michigan,” Carr said. “Michigan is everywhere.”
When he posts about one school, fans of the others chime in. When Carr posted from Georgia, he got 20 direct messages, many from people he didn’t know. Carr said it can get frustrating at times, but overall he enjoys the exposure.
“The first time I started playing football and basketball, it was strictly because I used to see the fans,” he said. “I have a love for the sport now, but when I first started it was because I like seeing fans. I like people cheering for me.”
Examples of the messages Carr receives after a post:
“You know the move.”
“Don’t worry about Georgia, go to Michigan.”
“Boiler up. I thought you were going to Purdue.”
Top 5 🌟🌟🌟💫Recruitment is still OPEN pic.twitter.com/x1BrSuOrWy
— Mäłįq “Thę Frêåk”5️⃣ Čãrr (@CarrMaliq) March 20, 2019
Carr said he responds to most messages, even from people he doesn’t know.
“I still enjoy it,” he said. “They say some off the wall stuff sometimes.”
And he actually has a third sport, he participates in track and field in the spring, but is not pursuing the sport in college.
Nicknamed “The Freak,” Carr comes from athletic bloodlines.
His mother, Peggy Carr-McMichael, played basketball at Tennessee and Ohio State. His biological father, Cornell Mann, played basketball at Colorado and Akron and is now an assistant coach at Missouri.
It’s no secret Carr is a highly touted as a wide receiver. The 247Sports Composite 4-star hauled in 21 catches for 815 yards and nine touchdowns. Though a wide receiver in high school, he’s listed as a tight end on the recruiting sites. He’s the No. 7 overall prospect in Michigan and the fifth best tight end in the country. His top five football schools are Georgia, Michigan, LSU, Auburn and Purdue.
Verbalcommits.com lists Carr’s hoop offers as Robert Morris, Oakland, LIU Brooklyn, Western Michigan and Cleveland State.
Carr’s basketball recruiting picked up later.
“Obviously he’s got a lot more offers in football, but the basketball part is starting to get really heavy,” Oak Park basketball coach Bobby Thompson said.
After averaging about 20 points and 15 rebounds per game this past winter, he has averaged 6.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game on the AAU circuit.
Playing this summer with The Family Detroit on the Nike sponsored Elite Youth Basketball League has brought greater basketball interest to Carr. The program’s elite team includes Carr, Michigan State commit Jalen Terry, Wisconsin commit Lorne Bowman II, unsigned and No. 17 overall basketball recruit Isaiah Jackson as well as Beecher’s Earnest Sanders, who is a 3-star football prospect.
Basketball offers came later because of uncertainty about his position and size, said Courtney Williams, coach of the Family.
“The question could never be answered until he went out in the spring,” Williams said. “Once schools see him do it against that level of competition they had no choice but to recruit him.”
After Carr visited Georgia this past weekend for football, the basketball staff showed interest. Purdue feels the same way.
“It meant a lot,” Carr said. “I mean, Purdue’s basketball program? You’ve seen what they did. Georgia basketball I don’t know much about, but they just got a No.1 recruit.”
Carr doesn’t show any stress about the process. Everyone wants a piece of him, but he appears unfazed.
Curtis Blackwell is a former Michigan State football assistant and director of Sound Mind Sound Body Football Academy in Detroit. He’s known Carr since he was in elementary school and is impressed with his poise.
“He’s enjoying the fruits of his labor,” Blackwell said. “I don’t think it’s an issue for Maliq as opposed to other kids who have never been in the spotlight before, but Maliq’s been groomed for this position all of his life.”
Carr will announce his college commitment Oct. 11, 2019, his 18th birthday.
“I think about it every day basically,” Carr said. “When I wake up, it’s the first thing I think about.”
Steve Wiltfong, 247Sports’s director of recruiting points to Carr’s athleticism as his calling card and makes him unique among the 2020 recruiting class.
“He’s really got a chance to be a hell of a mismatch on Saturdays,” Wiltfong said.
Contact Greg Levinsky: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky.