Caraway stepping up as leader for Lobos
By Jimmy Carter email@example.com
Aug. 29, 2012 at 10 p.m.
Bivins Caraway has a different swagger this fall.
The Longview senior quarterback has displayed his new attitude since the beginning of fall camp in early August.
The 6-foot, 200-pounder let out a yell when an on-target pass slipped through a receiver's hands in the back of the end zone during the Lobos' first fall practice.
"C'mon, you've got to catch that," Caraway shouted.
He yelled again several plays later as his pass hit the turf in front of a different receiver.
"My fault, my fault."
His demeanor was different than a year ago when he entered the season as a first-year starter.
"If there was somebody bending over in the huddle last year, I wouldn't say anything," Caraway said. "Now I'll tell them, 'Stand up, you good.' If coach (John) King gets on them, I go pick them up. I didn't do a lot last year because there was more senior leadership on the team.
"Now I've been here and done that and feel like I should have a voice and talk and get guys fired up."
Caraway is just one of two returning starters on the Lobos' offense. The coaching staff hasn't stopped pushing him to become more vocal in the locker room and on the field since spring practice started.
"He's got most of the game experience on offense and he needs to take that leadership role over," offensive coordinator Chris Vallery said. "We talk about that. When things aren't going real good in practice, he needs to be the one to pick up the tempo."
His coaches and teammates have noticed the difference in practices leading up to the Lobos' season opener against Coppell on Saturday.
"His communication with his teammates is a lot better," Longview coach John King said. "That was something he struggled with early on, just in relaying calls to the players. You can't do that. He's done better."
Caraway might not have been a vocal leader as a junior, but he led Longview to an 11-2 season and regional semifinal appearance. He threw for 2,424 yards, 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions, earning first-team all-district honors.
"He can get people to back off us," Longview coach John King said. "If we had not been able to throw the football as well as we did last year, we may not have won the district championship and went three rounds deep in the playoffs."
Caraway will enter the season as one of the premier players in the area after verbally committing to Louisiana-Monroe in June over offers from New Mexico, Navy and Texas State.
"ULM goes four-wide, five-wide every play," Caraway said. "They throw the ball almost every play and if someone isn't open, the quarterback runs the ball. So I liked that."
Before heading east, though, Caraway will again pilot a Lobos offense more pass-oriented than any other in King's nine-year tenure.
"I don't want to sit here and toot his horn, but he's got a chance to be really good," Vallery said. "He sees coverages and understands the offense really well. He's as accurate as any quarterback I've ever been around. A lot of times you have real strong arms, but the accuracy isn't there.
"He's got it all. He can make all the throws."
Caraway showcased his passing ability on Friday, completing 15 of 25 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns in a preseason scrimmage against Class 4A No. 3 John Tyler.
He threw all three touchdown passes to senior Justinn Spady. The duo has played catch since Spady moved to receiver in eighth grade, but began to deepen their bond in the classroom last year.
"We had a few classes together last year, so we talked about football the whole time," Caraway said. "We were both dedicated so we kind of started clicking."
The tandem worked to develop a connection in spring practice and during 7-on-7 over the summer, then built on it in fall practice.
They were on the same page that first night of fall practice in Lobo Stadium. Caraway clapped his hands enthusiastically when he completed passes, including many to Spady.
He clapped a lot that night. He plans to clap a lot this fall.
(Follow Jimmy Carter on Twitter: twitter.com/jicartersports)