As a star quarterback, Fresno State’s David Carr doesn’t receive support exclusively from his offensive line — you can also find 20 to 30 friends and family members in the stands at every home game, cheering him on. Among these rowdy fans are his wife, Melody, and son, Austin.
Carr and the Bulldogs broke onto the national scene last week, knocking off No. 12 (and Sports Illustrated’s pick for No. 1) Oregon State in Fresno. The win propelled FSU to the 19th spot in the Associated Press poll, but possibly more impressive than the national rank were Carr’s numbers. Passing for 340 yards and four touchdowns, the junior dissected the Beavers defense.
The stats were nothing new to Fresno State fans; Carr comes off a 2,338-yard season in 2000, in which he completed 61.8 percent of his passes. It was a joyride, particularly for the large personal entourage that packs the stands for Carr.
“Last year, David’s uncle made huge signs for his RV that said `David Carr’s Family Express.’ We would pack up everybody into the RV to go to the games, and his uncle would honk the horn as he would drive,” said Melody Carr, who married David in March 1999.
“David has a huge family, and they all come to the games along with my family and all of our friends. We have so much fun cheering for him and the whole team, and having Austin there is great,” she said.
The couple’s home has a relaxing, down-to-earth feeling. There are no life-size photos of David in his uniform or football trophies spread around the house.
“It is so funny to see David’s name in all these sports magazines. The other day we went to the book store and there was this gentleman reading a newspaper with a huge picture of David,” Melody said.
At times when the couple is out, people stop David and ask for his autograph.
“People see him as a star, and I think that is funny because I just see him as my high-school sweetheart,” she said.
Before being married, Melody attended a junior college in Bakersfield, Calif. Then she transferred to Fresno City and studied child development before she became pregnant with Austin. Right now, she is working with a daycare program and would like to someday go back to school and earn her teaching degree.
“A lot has happened in the last two years,” Melody said, referring to her marriage and the birth of her child. Melody and David have been married for two years and recently celebrated their son’s first birthday.
When Melody and David first met, she was a junior in high school and he was on his way to Fresno State. The two met at a church camp in their hometown of Bakersfield.
“He didn’t even tell me that he was going to Fresno State on a scholarship to play football. We were dating for almost three months before he told me,” Melody confessed. “I would say to him, ‘What do you want to do after college?’ and he would say that he wanted to play in the NFL, and I would say, `No, really, what do you want to do?’ I mean, how many people do you meet that actually can go on to the NFL?”
Playing professional football is something that Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez admits will likely be in Carr’s future. Preparing a scheme to combat the Fresno State quarterback’s efficiency, Alvarez compared him to Joey Harrington, the Heisman Trophy candidate the Badgers faced last week.
“[Carr is] probably more accurate,” Alvarez said. “Without looking at his numbers, off hand I would guess he would throw for a higher percentage than Harrington would. They’re similar in stature, they’re similar in the fact that they would prefer not to run; they want to throw it.”
Alvarez didn’t have to watch any film to notice that fact about the 6-foot-3, 220-pound QB. Carr has run for negative gain in two games in 2001, and finished with just 80 yards on 65 carries last year. Nonetheless, Carr brings multiple dimensions to fit his real strength — passing.
His completion percentage (61.4 percent) and quarterback rating (135.4) at Colorado suggest his style is in the mold of a consistent possession QB. Then again, his 10.0 yards-per-attempt against OSU belies a deep, big-play threat.
UW’s Wendell Bryant credits arm strength and endurance for the two-faced style, noting that Carr can throw as many as 35 to 45 passes a game and still toss the ball “perfectly.”
Carr’s breakout came in his sophomore year, when he won seven of the Bulldogs’ final nine games, but the success was not altogether unexpected.
Coming out of high school, Carr was highly recruited, hearing from every school in the Pac 10. Leading his league and county in passing his senior year, he broke 14 school records and was named to the 1996 All-Star team in Gridiron Greats, along with earning all-West Region honors in Prep Star magazine.
“It has always been his dream ever since he was a little boy to play in the NFL,” Melody said. “If it is God’s will, David would love to play professional football, and I think that it will happen for him. He has worked really hard to make it happen.”
Last season was Carr’s first season as the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs.
“It was tough since he just came from high school as a starter and was hoping to start at Fresno State,” Melody said, regarding David’s redshirt year. “Looking back, though, it was good for him. David decided he was going to put his mind on other things like working out and eating right to get ready for the next year.”
Carr’s hard work was evident this past season as he guided the Bulldogs to seven wins and a 6-2 WAC record, along with being named second-team all-WAC. David also set the Fresno State career completion percentage record of .606, and his 24 career touchdowns rank ninth in school history.
During the interview, Austin picked up a little basketball, and, like a pro, slam-dunked it into his basketball hoop.
“Right now, Austin is off the charts in size compared to other kids his age,” Melody said. “David teaches him every kind of sport. He would prefer that Austin played football but likes him to get involved with everything.”
David came in sporting a “DAD” T-shirt and played a little catch with Austin. He might not have his father’s technique down perfectly, but at thirteen months old, little Austin can throw the ball clear across the room. Sounds like a chip off the old block.