Skip to main content

Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

Why You Want Derek Carr on Your Team

Jul 21, 2017 11:00AM ● By Kayla Anderson

Full Speed Ahead

August 2017
Story by Kayla Anderson
Photos courtesy of Derek Carr

Dedicated NFL fans have probably noticed the recent rise of the Raiders, thanks largely to quarterback and South Valley native Derek Carr. Growing up in an athletic family, the youngest of three sons has strong ties to football, family and faith. He shared a little bit about all three with Enjoy Magazine.

Football…  Born in Fresno, the beginning of Carr’s football career was actually in Houston, when his family moved from Bakersfield to Sugar Land, Texas, to support his older brother David’s career with the Houston Texans. 

“Football in Texas is a big deal, and there was a lot of pressure even in high school. It truly is ‘Friday Night Lights’ on any given Friday in Texas,” he says. 

Carr started playing football his freshman year for the Clements High School Rangers and became quarterback on the varsity team his sophomore year. He quickly started putting up impressive stats, completing 12 touchdowns as a sophomore and 16 touchdowns as a junior. 

And of course, he had the advantage of having a pro as his older brother. “I could sit in on meetings with David during quarterback and offensive meetings. I watched film with David and he would grill me with questions.  He was already becoming my most important mentor and coach. I learned all the fundamentals from David, the different plays and calls. At 12 and 13 years old, to be exposed to that level of play at the NFL level, made a huge impact on me,” Carr says.

It wasn’t always Carr’s desire to be a pro football player - his favorite sport to watch and play is basketball. However, his dad gave him a reality check.

“He was like, ‘Son, you will grow to be 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3. Do you really want to play basketball?’ Then reality set in and I thought maybe football would be a better fit for me,” Carr says. In his sophomore year of high school, becoming a football player clicked for him, and by his junior year, he knew he would be declaring for the NFL draft after he graduated. 

In 2008, the Carr family moved back to Bakersfield, where Carr played for Bakersfield Christian High School as a senior, winning awards and setting school records. His brother Darren is the head football coach there now, and his brother David and father Rodger also help with the team.

Scouts took notice of Carr’s talent, and he was recruited by the Fresno State Bulldogs by the end of his junior year. He actually wanted to play for the California Golden Bears under the tutelage of Coach Jeff Tedford, who is ironically now the head coach of the Bulldogs. 

“That did not play out, so since David played at Fresno State and I loved the Bulldog tunnel, it felt like the right place for me. I knew wherever I played I would make the most of it,” Carr says. 

Carr enrolled at Fresno State in spring 2009 and became the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs in the autumn of 2011. In his college athletic career, Carr threw for 113 touchdowns and 12,843 passing yards. 

After his stint at Fresno State, Carr was picked up by the Oakland Raiders as the backup to then-quarterback Matt Schaub. He wooed the coaches in a summer preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, scoring three touchdowns in the first quarter, then another in the second quarter before being relieved. He began the regular 2014 football season as the Raiders’ starting quarterback. 

Each morning, he wakes up early, eats a healthy breakfast of eggs, spinach, and chicken apple sausage and starts training. 

“During the off season I train in the morning and do two training sessions throughout the day,” Carr says. In-season, he heads to the Raiders facility at 5am to watch film, train and follow a specific daily routine. 

He has always looked up to his brothers and father for inspiration, but as a basketball player at heart, Kobe Bryant is an athlete that he always wanted to emulate on the field. “His work ethic was incredible and I became obsessed with watching him play every game, how he approached the game, his attitude and ability to keep pushing hard,” he says.

Family… Carr’s parents and brothers still reside in the Bakersfield area, and he met his wife Heather (originally from Friant) at a BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse while having lunch with a teammate. 

“She was our waitress. I thought she was beautiful and wanted to ask her out. So I made a joke about her earrings; I scared her and said, ‘You are missing the other earring!’ and she immediately grabbed her ear and started laughing. And the rest is history,” Carr says. 

In 2013, their first son, Dallas, was born with tangled intestines that only surgery could correct, and he was in Valley Children’s Healthcare for 23 days. During that stressful period, Derek and Heather developed solid relationships with the doctors and staff, and the Carrs remain strong supporters of the hospital. “It made me realize how precious life is. We need to be grateful for good health. I am grateful to God for having the ability to have this unique career and it allows me a platform to help other people and organizations,” he says. 

The couple has another son, 1-year-old Deker Luke Carr. “Family has always been number one for me,” he says.

Faith… Carr says that his faith is everything in his life and that it gets him through rough patches and gives him purpose. Through his Fresno State teammate Lorne Bell, he works closely with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, speaking to youth about what it means to be a Christian. About Bell, Carr says, “He was an amazing role model for me and really put me on the path to God and strengthened my faith.” 

The defining moment in his life when he accepted God was in college, he says. “I was not going down the right path, you could say, and after I met Heather I realized I need to be a better man or I will lose this amazing person,” he says. 

If he were to offer any words of advice to kids who look up to him, it is, “Always love others as you want to be loved. So simple, yet so many people continue to be rude and hateful to other people, especially in high school. My message to young kids is to always show love, especially to yourself.  When you love yourself, you respect yourself, which means you will try harder in school, or sports, or music or whatever it is you are passionate about.”

Community…  Derek and his family venture down to the South Valley as often as they can. Whenever he has some down time, he enjoys working with Valley Children’s Healthcare, participating with Carr Elite camps and clinics, speaking at churches in Bakersfield and attending engagements where he can inspire youth. • Find him on Facebook and Instagram