Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson
Houston redshirt sophomore receiver Tyron Carrier is one of the rare two-sport athletes in college football today. Carrier not only leads the Cougars with 43 catches for 511 yards and four touchdowns, he’s also one of the school’s best track and field athletes. Carrier qualified for the NCAA championships last year and participated in the U.S. Olympic Trials, both in the 200-meter dash.
Carrier sat down this week to talk about balancing the two sports and working toward a conference championship.
I know you’re heavily involved with track. What was your offseason like with Case Keenum and trying to get a rhythm with him?
Tyron Carrier: Yeah, I participate in track the majority of the offseason, so when I come in [for football], I try to get as much work done as possible. We meet a couple times during the day during the offseason trying to work on timing. It’s all of the receivers and that’s probably one of the biggest reasons why we’re doing so well this year.
Would you consider yourself a track guy who plays football or a football player who runs track?
TC: I’d consider myself a guy who plays both sports. I’ve been doing both for so long that I don’t want to know what it feels like not to do both of them.
What was it like qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the 200?
TC: It was a good experience. It was a different type of level of competing because any little mistake that happens it’s all on you. You’ve got to perform at the top level at all times.
How do you think running track helps you in football?
TC: It makes me a lot faster on the field. I can get from 0 to 90 real fast.
Zero to 90, huh?
So when you’re running routes, do you rely on your speed to beat corners and safeties?
TC: Speed and technique. You know, being a small guy I can’t really let anyone get their hands on me because they’ll knock me off my route. So it’s just speed and a little technique.
Because you do so much track in the offseason, how hard is it to keep up with Case and to keep up with the playbook and all that other stuff while everyone else is doing football year-round?
TC: It’s not that hard. Track’s not as demanding as football is during football season. I have time during track that I can go out there and I can run routes and everything.
How are you liking your role on this team this year?
TC: I love it. It’s fun to know that everyone relies on you in tough situations. Case spreads the ball around really well, so you’ve got to be on your toes at all times.
It seems like the last couple weeks this team has played focused. What’s been the difference?
TC: This has probably been the third straight game that we’ve been having a lot of fun. Once we decided to have a lot more fun, great things started to happen.
What’s the mentality of the team heading into this week’s big game against Southern Miss?
TC: We’ve got to stay hungry. Southern Miss is a great team on defense. I was watching them the other day and they’re hungry, they fly around and we’ve just got to do what we do. We can’t worry about what new stuff they’re going to put in because everyone’s going to come to play. So we just have to do what we do and be good at what we do.
What did you guys learn from that UTEP loss a couple weeks ago?
TC: It was a reality check. No matter who we play, we’re going to get their best game. We’ve got the "X" on our chest and we’ve got to live up to that quality. We’ve got to come to play every game.
Do you think this team is mentally ready to challenge for the conference title?
TC: Oh, yeah, we’re mentally ready. That loss really opened our eyes that you’ve got to play every team. I mean, we’re ready; we’re ready now.