Back to Fresno

DerekCarrStoryThe phone rang. It was sometime in 2008 and Pat Hill, then Fresno State’s football coach, was calling to see how David Carr, the oldest of son of Rodger and Sheryl Carr, was doing.

David was a former Fresno State record-setting quarterback who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft by the expansion Houston Texans and was featured on the cover of Sports Spectrum that year.

Carr took plenty of hits those first few seasons (from the media and from defenses) and had since left the Texans, playing with the Carolina Panthers for one season before ending up with the New York Giants in a backup role.

Hill was just calling to check up on his former pupil.

After Hill had gotten past the pleasantries and had asked about David, Rodger Carr jokingly asked, “Why haven’t you called Derek?”

Rodger was asking Hill about the Carr’s youngest son, who would end up having a record-setting senior year as quarterback at Bakersfield (Calif.) Christian and had become one of the nation’s best high school quarterbacks after passing for an eye-popping 4,067 yards and 46 touchdowns in only 13 games, while also rushing for 281 yards and five more scores.

Hill laughed and said, “I didn’t think we had a chance of getting him.”

Rodger handed the phone to Derek, who was being recruited by BCS heavyweights Alabama, Notre Dame, LSU, Texas Tech, Southern Cal, Arizona, Utah, and Cal.

“He offered me (a scholarship),” Derek recalls. “I remember I didn’t wait long. I called him the next day and committed because that’s what I wanted to do all along.”

Oddly, because Fresno State hadn’t expressed interest, Carr didn’t think he was good enough to play for the Bulldogs, a non-BCS Division I school that plays in the pass-happy but highly respected Mountain West.

“I just really thought I wasn’t good enough or they didn’t think I was good enough,” Carr says. “I didn’t think they wanted me until he called and talked to me.”

Fast forward five years later to 2013.

Some things have changed, but a lot hasn’t.

Hill is no longer the coach (he was let go after a 4-9 season in 2011, only the second losing season for him in the previous 13 years, and replaced by Tim DeRuyter).

Carr married the former Heather Neel on June 29, 2012, and more than 13 months later, on Aug. 5, 2013, the couple had their first child, Dallas Mason Carr, who was named after Derek’s middle name. Dallas weighed 7 pounds, 10.9 ounces.

Being a married college student is easier than if he was single, Carr says.

“Because she keeps me more organized. I’m not the most organized person in the world. Just having her there to be a best friend and really helpmate to myself, it’s so much fun to not worry about getting caught up in this, getting caught up in that,” he says. “I know what I’m going home to; I have my wife and my son, so I know who I’m going home to and I have a stable environment to go home to. I don’t have too many worries that others might have.”

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What hasn’t changed, though, is Carr’s adeptness at quarterback, his unwavering faith and his respect for his brother – one of the reasons he wanted to play at Fresno State.

Carr is once again one of the top quarterbacks in the nation his senior year as he comes off the heels of leading the Mountain West in passing (4,104 yards, 37 touchdowns) and being named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year.

He also comes into this season listed on nearly every major watch list for postseason awards like the Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien, Maxwell and Walter Camp after compiling 7,648 yards passing and 63 touchdowns the last two seasons.

He only needs 3,048 passing yards to break the school record, which was set in 1986.

More than all the numbers and what he does on the field, his faith is what drives him.

“It’s No. 1,” he says. “It’s the No. 1 thing in my life. You can ask anyone who knows me, that’s the first thing they should tell you, and if they don’t, then I’m not doing the right thing. Derek Carr is not the Fresno State quarterback. First of all, he’s a Christian and then he’s the Fresno State quarterback; that is what’s the most important thing to me, to be noticed as a Christian first and a quarterback second.”

“I know where my talent comes from, and it’s not from my abilities,” Derek says. “I know where it comes from and He can take it away in a second.”

His focus on his faith is helped by having a brother like David, who Derek looks up to and who plays the same position. David, now in his second stint with the New York Giants after spending 2008 and 2009 with them and then 2010 with the San Francisco 49ers, has been a guiding influence on and off the field.

“David is so intelligent when it comes to our faith,” Derek says. “He’s given me some of the best advice that sticks with me all the time, some funny and some serious. On the field, off the field, the first thing he ever told me was, ‘Don’t be an idiot. On the field, don’t be an idiot, don’t force stupid passes, have a reason for what you’re doing. And off the field, don’t be an idiot, and that one’s self-explanatory.’”

It’s basic, simple, yet blunt and needed, especially in today’s culture.

Derek also says that David gave him another “great piece of advice that always sticks with me” and has helped him endure the praise and the undue criticism of playing one of the most-watched positions in big-time college football.

“People are going to say great things about you, people are always going to say bad things about you,” Derek recalls David telling him. “Don’t listen to either of them, because you can’t get too high, you can’t get too low. Don’t listen to either of them. Say thank you, be polite and accept it. Be thankful and grateful for it, but at the same time don’t be too high and don’t be too low, because as high as they put you, they can tear you down just as fast. That’s something he’s taught me since I was very little, very young.”

The biggest lesson, though, is remembering the source of his skills. For Derek, it comes back to what’s No. 1 in his life.

“I know where my talent comes from, and it’s not from my abilities,” Derek says. “I know where it comes from and He can take it away in a second.”

His focus on his faith is helped by having a brother like David, who Derek looks up to and who plays the same position. David, now in his second stint with the New York Giants after spending 2008 and 2009 with them and then 2010 with the San Francisco 49ers, has been a guiding influence on and off the field.

“David is so intelligent when it comes to our faith,” Derek says. “He’s given me some of the best advice that sticks with me all the time, some funny and some serious. On the field, off the field, the first thing he ever told me was, ‘Don’t be an idiot. On the field, don’t be an idiot, don’t force stupid passes, have a reason for what you’re doing. And off the field, don’t be an idiot, and that one’s self-explanatory.’”

It’s basic, simple, yet blunt and needed, especially in today’s culture.

Derek also says that David gave him another “great piece of advice that always sticks with me” and has helped him endure the praise and the undue criticism of playing one of the most-watched positions in big-time college football.

“People are going to say great things about you, people are always going to say bad things about you,” Derek recalls David telling him. “Don’t listen to either of them, because you can’t get too high, you can’t get too low. Don’t listen to either of them. Say thank you, be polite and accept it. Be thankful and grateful for it, but at the same time don’t be too high and don’t be too low, because as high as they put you, they can tear you down just as fast. That’s something he’s taught me since I was very little, very young.”

The biggest lesson, though, is remembering the source of his skills. For Derek, it comes back to what’s No. 1 in his life. 

By Brett Honeycutt

Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor at Sports Spectrum magazineThis story was published in the August 2013 Sports Spectrum DigiMag. Print and digital subscribers, log in here to view. Not a subscriber to Sports Spectrum? Subscribe here

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