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June 10, 2013

Derek Carr has high expectations

Editor's note: This past Wednesday Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr was in Bakersfield, Calif. for the Bulldog Express tour. We got a chance to sit down with Derek to discuss his future, the legacy he wants to leave at Fresno State, his Heisman campaign, and upcoming birth of his child.

Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr knows that the 2013 season is coming with some lofty expectations. After a Mountain West Conference championship last year, Carr enters this season amid Heisman expectations and a BCS berth for the Bulldogs in the final year of the Bowl Championship Series.

Even with all the distractions he and his team are facing, Carr has embraced his leadership role and plans to use this season to cultivate the next great leaders at the quarterback position.

"I care about their future just as much as they do," Carr said of the incoming class. "First and foremost, I'm going to push them. I'm going to demand that this is how we do things, if you don't do it this way then, hey, we can't help you here. So, that's the first thing they gotta know; that we're going to demand a lot out of 'em.

"But at the same time, when I came in, people demanded a lot out of me and I don't regret one thing that I've done so far," Carr continued. "So, that's kinda how I look at it. I'm gonna bring 'em on as fast as I can 'cause there's a lot of these young guys that can help us play. I'm very excited to get to work with them and mentor them. Hopefully they can help us."

It certainly wasn't easy for Carr. After the Bulldogs opted to part ways with former head coach Pat Hill, Carr found himself without the coach that had been such a huge part of his life. Given the Carr family history with Hill, transitioning to Coach Tim DeRuyter was one of the tougher things Carr has had to do.

"It was tough because I was so close to Coach Hill," Carr said of the transition. "That's why it was so tough. Now, knowing Coach DeRuyter, being so close to him, we've had many a talks now. This is the second year knowing him. So, we know each other a great deal now and, ya know, it was hard at first to transition to something new, which it always is. It's like, when Coach Hill left, it was really hard on me. It was tough because I didn't know which guy they were going to bring in, if I was gonna like him or what. Coach DeRuyter came in and he was so accepting. He was so gracious to me and the teammates, so we followed his lead and it led us to a championship. So, this being the second year that we know him and hopefully it leads to more."

Of course, all the talk of titles and Heismans has a buzz around the Bulldog program that Carr et al. expect to get even noisier as the season approaches. If the Bulldogs are to repeat as conference champions, they will need to have a laser focus and Carr will have to lead the way. Carr turned to a familiar face for his help in accomplishing his leadership goals.

"My brother, David, he gave me great advice. He told me people are gonna say, when you do good in all this, they're gonna say a lot of great things about you. They're gonna praise you. They're gonna say all these things. When you do bad, those same people are gonna be just as quick to throw you under the bus and bash you and all that good stuff. So, with that said, he always taught me don't listen to either of 'em.'

"Don't listen to the praise, don't listen to the trash," Carr elaborated. "You know, 'cause it'll mess with your emotions. We're human. It'll bring you down. It'll get you too high and you'll get full of yourself. So, with him telling me that, I think that it has given me a level head and that's the thing that, if I can hang my hat on something, that's the thing I hang my hat on. Always trying to be level headed and not let the good get too good, and the bad get too bad in my life."

There's saying it and then there is doing it. Carr recognizes the importance of distinguishing the two and making sure that the former is accompanied by the hard work and dedication required to achieve such goals. That said, working hard is something Carr has done his whole life and he has no intentions of this season being any different.

"From the beginning, since I can remember, in high school and in junior high, I've always just, whatever happens is gonna happen," Carr said of the expectations. "Just continue to get better, whatever you can get better at. So, work hard. From last year, going into this season now, all the things that happened? They happened. We won a championship, all the awards, all that, that all happened and it is what it is, but I can only control myself.

"Now let's take what I did last year," Carr continued. "What can I get better at now? How can I get stronger in my legs? How can I get a strong upper body? You know, just doing that. How can I get better mentally? And I think that, that's how you handle expectations. If I sit back and soak in all the awards and preseason lists and all that, I'm gonna go out and have a terrible year. So, my main thing is just having a level head and just keep working hard. That's how I handle it."

Of course, Carr doesn't just have any old expectations in 2013. No, he has the cursed Heisman expectation that has made/broken so many season before. Once again, Carr's level-headed approach to the award is how he plans to manage that particular expectation.

"With the Heisman trophy, of course I'd wanna win," Carr said frankly. "I'm human. Who, what college football player would not wanna win it, ya know? But at the same time, if I didn't, it's not gonna ruin it. Like I told you, you take the good and the bad and you just don't listen to either. If I won it, that's great for the program and that's great for recruiting. The Valley can always say, 'We had a Heisman Trophy winner.' That'd be great. It'd be sweet. It really would. If not, I'm still gonna be Derek Carr. I'm still gonna keep working hard and I'm gonna move on. That's how I feel about it. But, of course I wanna win it. Don't get me wrong. I want to, but if it didn't happen, it wasn't meant to be."

True to his word on being level-headed, Carr realizes that this season and these expectations mean so much to this community and the Fresno State program. Not lost on Carr is the idea that a man's legacy means more than wins and losses or personal achievements. Carr couldn't be more proud to represent the Valley.

"This is home," Carr said adamantly. "They say your home is where the heart is and my heart is definitely here in the Valley, Fresno and Bakersfield. That's where I spent the majority of my life and it's very near and dear to my heart. Let alone, there's great players that come from Bakersfield and the surrounding cities around here. I don't blame people for recruiting this place. It's always special for our home town 'cause it's not too big of a town, so it's always special for people to go out and do something with their careers that are from here, not only in sports, but there's a lot of successful business people that have come from here.

"To me the Valley is special and the fact that we continue to recruit it at Fresno State, it means something 'cause we're the Valley's team. They don't have a professional sports team anywhere close so we're kinda their team. It's pretty cool that we continue to get kids from here 'cause it gives even more people reason to come watch."

And the Valley will have cause for another celebration come August. No, we're not talking about football. Though that is important to Carr, it's understandably not the thing for which he is most excited.

"Oh, man," Carr said. "Most excited about . . . honestly, in 2013, I'm most excited about my son, him coming here in August. I think that is the most exciting thing, more than any football win/trophy can give me. Me and my wife are very blessed to be able to have a son, and I pray that he's healthy. I think that is the most exciting. And after that, you know, I got one more year. This is my last year. I can't way for Senior Day. I can, but I can't wait. It's bittersweet. It's been a fun ride and we got one more chapter to write. So, I'm very excited for this season and I'm looking forward to it."

What a chapter and season this could turn out to be for the Bulldogs. Carr was also excited for one other thing, but unfortunately he said he has no more information than the fans about it.

"I'm excited for those," Carr said of the new uniforms. "I'm with the fans. I haven't seen 'em either. I can't wait to see 'em. I'm very excited. That's another thing that's great for recruiting; that kind of stuff. I'm that age. We're at that age where jerseys and that kind of stuff, that's cool. That stuff's awesome. Maybe some of the older guys don't like it, but it's good for recruiting. It's good for all that stuff and it's good for the program. So anything that's good for Fresno State football, I'm good for it."

Derek Carr took a question about new uniforms and turned the conversation into one about what's good for Fresno State, recruiting, and the football program. Level-headed is probably an understatement. Fresno State and Derek Carr are hoping to combine expectations and hardwork to achieve results. With Carr at the helm, they likely will. Only he probably won't know that they have. He will be too busy working to notice.

Stay tuned to FSBulldogs.com for more updates on the upcoming Fresno State football season.

Josh Webb is a special contributor to FSBulldogs.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @BulldogsTwist.


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