Lamar Carraway is the most versatile player on the Tyler Junior College football team.
He can play quarterback, running back, wide receiver, slot receiver, punt returner and kickoff returner.
The Louisiana native, if needed, could play defense and even lead the Apache marching band at halftime.
“Having Lamar Carraway on the field at all times makes us a better football team,” TJC coach Danny Palmer said.
Carraway, a sophomore from Lake Providence, La., and his teammates will be in action on Saturday when the No. 10 Apaches (3-0) open Southwest Junior College Football Conference play against Blinn College (2-2, 1-0) at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. Kickoff on Earl Campbell Field is 7 p.m.
The Apaches will need Carraway and his skills again this week if they want to continue climbing up the NJCAA poll.
In the victory over Southeast Prep last week, Carraway had a big day both in the return game and receiving. He had four catches for 71 yards and two TDs, plus added a 41-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Carraway said it takes the whole team to set up a punt return.
“I caught the ball and there was one guy in front of me,” said the 5-8, 170-pounder. “I knew my guy would peel back and block him. … I know I really don’t have much to worry about because my teammates are going to get to the guys to block and set up the wall. It is a beautiful sight when you see that wall. It is a total team effort.”
Carraway, whose hometown is near Monroe, La., says he plays in memory of his mother, Jewel Smith, each week. Mrs. Smith passed away in 2006.
“I play for my mother and my teammates and coaches each day,” Carraway said. “My mother would have been 41 (Sept. 17). I am always thinking about her.
“We just try to do well in each practice, each day. Then when game time comes around, we try to go 1-0.”
Carraway said he did not focus on his academics in high school. He thought he would not have a chance to play football again. Then he got a second chance.
“I was sitting in class one day and coach Palmer and coach (offensive coordinator Ryan) Mahon had called my coach,” Carraway said. “They said they were going to offer me (a scholarship). They told me I would be a good fit at TJC instead of the Mississippi schools.
“I didn’t know anything about Tyler, but when I got here I loved it from Day 1 — I love everything about the school and the city. Tyler is big — the population back home is about 2,000.”
Palmer and Mahon knew they had someone special in Carraway.
He was a four-year starter at QB for Lake Providence and a two-time 200-meter champion at the state track meet. He also won the 100-meters as a junior.
His versatility allows the Apaches to open up the play book. Also, when quarterback Matt Davis transferred from Texas A&M, it allowed Palmer to switch Carraway to receiver where he could help out the young core of wideouts.
“Lamar is a special player,” Palmer said.
Carraway added, “I thank God that coach Palmer and coach Mahon gave me a chance. I’m concentrating on my classes and love helping my teammates any way I can.”
SMOKE SIGNALS — Carraway said he has been offered by Troy University. … Both TJC soccer teams and tennis squads will be in action Friday. The No. 4 Apache Ladies soccer team (6-2) takes on No. 5 Butler (Kan.) at 2 p.m. at Pat Hartley Soccer Complex. The No. 1 Apaches soccer squad (5-0) is on the road again, traveling to Paris to meet the Dragons at 5 p.m. … The tennis teams will be on the courts at JoAnn Medlock Murphy Tennis Center both Friday and Saturday. … On Saturday, the TJC volleyball squad (11-2), ranked No. 6, travels to Temple to meet Temple College at 2:30 p.m. The men’s soccer team will be in Mount Pleasant to play Northeast Texas Community College at 5 p.m.