Ever stared at the phone and willed it to start ringing? Derek Carr knows the feeling.
And, though it came a day later than he would have liked, Carr got the call he wanted Friday afternoon: The Oakland Raiders were on the other line, telling the Bakersfield native they were about to make him the 36th pick in the NFL Draft.
“I’m just so fired up that they called,” said Carr, a record-setting quarterback at Fresno State who graduated from Bakersfield Christian. “When that pick came up, and I saw they were next, I was just waiting, looking at my phone. It started ringing, and I almost forgot how to answer it, I was so excited.”
For the second straight day, the Carr family gathered at David's house in southwest Bakersfield to watch the draft. After the phone call and just before Oakland's pick was announced on live television, Rodger Carr, Derek's father, emerged from the house and yelled, "Raiders!"
The upshot is that Carr is going from Fresno State’s Dog House northwest to Oakland’s Black Hole.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to be a part of the Raider Nation, to have my family be a part of the Raider Nation,” Carr said. “... My brothers, growing up, they had Raider shirts, they had Raider jackets and all that.”
Carr also went to a team that really wanted him. Three other quarterbacks were taken in Thursday’s first round but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Friday that Carr was the top quarterback on the Raiders’ draft board.
“It was well worth the wait,” Carr said. “I can’t tell you how happy I am to be on a team that wanted me, that made their decision real fast. They knew when they came up that I was going to their choice.”
Carr follows his brother, Stockdale graduate David — the No. 1 pick of the Houston Texans in 2002 — into the NFL.
“Selfishly, for him to be close to home, and for all the people in the Central Valley to be able to cheer for him, it’s a pretty awesome deal,” David Carr said. “He’s just unbelievably blessed — our whole family has been — and he’s with an unbelievable franchise with rich history. Couldn’t be better.”
Oakland traded for veteran QB Matt Schaub last month, but the Raiders hope Carr can quickly take the reins of the offense, even if that means sitting behind Schaub for a short time.
“You know what, I don’t know that’s it’s necessarily a bad deal,” said David Carr, who was forced to start right away for the expansion Texans and struggled behind a pourous offensive line. “I think this is going to be the best possible scenario. I think he’ll be able to learn from the guy, and they’ve got a good coaching staff. Flip (quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo), Dennis Allen (Oakland’s head coach). They’re great people, and just from a quarterback’s perspective, they do a great job.”
Carr also seemingly has the blessing of several Bay Area greats.
“I think he’ll be a surprise,” 49ers legend Joe Montana told KNBR radio in San Francisco. “He does all the right things. He’s mobile, yet he’s a pocket guy. He throws the ball with touch. He has a strong enough arm to make all the throws.”
Rich Gannon, who led the Raiders to their most recent Super Bowl appearance, in 2003, also told the San Francisco Chronicle he thought Carr was “the best pure passer” in the draft.
Carr, who’s 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, set 27 Fresno State schools records, including single-season records of 5,082 yards and 50 touchdowns passing as a senior. He threw for 4,068 yards and 46 touchdowns as a senior at BCHS, leading the Eagles to the 2008 Central Section Division V title.
Now Carr, 23, will head with his wife, Heather, and infant son, Dallas, to another stage of his career.
“When they called and said, ‘Hey, we’re picking you next,’ there’s a lot of emotion,” Carr said. “You know how much work it’s taken to get to this point. Once the emotion wears off, you’re ready to get to work. I’m excited to get into the playobook and get in with my teammates.”