The buzz inside Bulldog Stadium increased to a roar – at halftime.
That normally most placid time of a football game on Saturday night was turned into a madhouse thanks to arguably the greatest player in Fresno State history.
Oakland Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr had his No. 4 Bulldogs jersey retired, just four years since he last suited up for Fresno State.
Carr’s No. 4 jersey now hangs from outside of the press box that soars above Jim Sweeney Field, flanked just to the left of his older brother David’s No. 8 jersey number that’s also on display.
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Carr is just one of seven Bulldogs to have his jersey retired and on display.
“I can’t tell you how much it means to me,” Carr said during the halftime ceremony while addressing the announced crowd of 39,447 that watched Fresno State open the season with a 66-0 win against Incarnate Word.
“I dreamed of this moment when I was a little boy. And now it’s finally happened.”
As Fresno State’s record-holder of 27 marks as well as 21 Mountain West records, Carr brought the Bulldogs back onto the national stage while establishing himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the country during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Just as significant as the wins and records, Carr captivated the Red Wave and gave Fresno State fans hope, and sometimes assurance, that the Bulldogs weren’t just a mid-major team.
Fresno State belonged among the top college football programs.
“It was all part of one plan, which was to finish what Dave started,” Carr said explaining why he came to Fresno State during a news conference earlier in the day. “This was the most special times Fresno State football has ever seen.
“I wanted to be a small part of that. And come in here and beat Boise (State) and win some championships.”
It was 10 years ago that David Carr had his jersey retired, which also generated a thunderous applause.
Derek Carr’s ceremony, however, seemed to be louder, perhaps aided by the presence of a number of Raiders fans. Even NBA star Paul George was in attendance to watch his good friend.
There also were more cheers coming from the Carr family, which was bigger now, too, with Derek’s wife Heather and their sons Dallas and Deker Luke present.
This really puts a cap on everything, on every reason why I came to go to school here.
Fresno State great Derek Carr
“This really puts a cap on everything,” Carr said, “on every reason why I came to go to school here.”
Carr said his brother’s jersey retirement ceremony in 2007 served as motivation.
“It’s definitely something I dreamed of,” Carr said. “Every time I sat here and what kept me focused was: No. 1, I wanted to give God everything I had.
“And No. 2, I wanted to put my name besides his,” Derek said as he tilted his head toward David.
“I hope I gave you one experience, one time, one game, one play that you can all remember,” Carr said. “Because it was fun for me and I hope it was fun for you.”
By the numbers
A look at Derek Carr’s Fresno State career passing totals.
*Bowl stats included