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Derek Carr ready to follow brother at Fresno

9/1/2011

David Carr wanted to give his brother, Derek, some extra motivation for college. So he bought him a housewarming gift that does not belong on the Fresno State campus.

A Boise State flag.

It came with explicit instructions.

The flag cannot be taken down until Derek Carr beats the Broncos.

Ten years have not healed the hurt of what happened to David Carr his senior season at Fresno State. Carr had the Bulldogs ranked No. 8 in the nation, knocking on the BCS door. But Boise State pulled off the shocker, upsetting Fresno State 35-30.

As Derek Carr embarks on his first game as the new Fresno State starting quarterback against California on Saturday, that flag serves as a daily reminder of getting Fresno State to the one place his brother could not go.

“I came here to finish what he started,” Derek Carr said in a recent phone interview. “That’s what he wanted me to do. It’s not even pressure. He was supposed to go (to the BCS) his senior year, and unfortunately lost two games at the end to two good opponents. So now I have a Boise State flag in my house.”

To be sure, David Carr accomplished nearly everything he set out to do, becoming the No. 1 overall pick of the Houston Texans in 2002. Carr was the national offensive player of the year his senior year after leading the nation with 4,839 yards passing and 46 touchdowns.

He put Fresno State on the national map, and for that coach Pat Hill is forever grateful. Now he gets another opportunity with Derek Carr, who has embraced his opportunity and all his brother has done for the program.

Derek Carr is not shying away from any of the talk about his brother. In fact, he wondered what took Hill so long to reach out to him during the recruiting process because he wanted to be a Bulldog. When David played there, Derek used to attend every home game with his family.

“I remember every game,” Derek Carr said. “I remember sitting down and watching the players on the ramp. I told someone I would be walking down that ramp in 10 years and sure enough, I’m going to get to do that this season.”

Hill and quarterbacks coach Jeff Grady believe Carr is more than ready for his opportunity. Carr has benefited from being a backup quarterback as a true freshman and redshirting last season.

“He has soaked everything in, been a big-time student of the game, and put himself in a position to be a starter,” Grady said. “He’s got the ability to be a heck of a player.”

Carr gets to open his season against Cal coach Jeff Tedford, who coached David Carr at Fresno State. Tedford remains family friends with the Carrs. Then there is more familiarity in the middle of the schedule, when Fresno State hosts Boise State on Oct. 7 -- his first chance to knock off the Broncos for his brother. He still remembers that upset in 2001, saying “that loss hit my heart.” Derek Carr certainly has his own career to make, but he and his brother remain close and he wants nothing more than to make his brother proud.

That means getting Fresno State nationally relevant again.

“David did a great job here,” Hill said. “Derek wants to take this program further, he wants to take it to another level. I’m behind him 100 percent on that because that’s the way we all feel.”