After a poor showing in the Las Vegas Bowl, Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr couldn't wait to get to the Senior Bowl a month later and try to erase the memory of his worst performance of the season.
He completed a season-low 53.7 percent of his passes in that 45-20 loss to USC in the bowl game with a season-low 95.8 rating. His longest completion was only 23 yards. That's the football end of Carr, who decided not to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine after strong reviews from his Senior Bowl performance.
On a personal level, Carr has endured far more serious complications in his life over the last year. His son Dallas was born on Aug. 5, 2013 … with plenty of obstacles and life-threatening surgeries on the horizon.
Dallas Carr was born with twisted intestines, which sent him into three surgeries over the coming months, during the heart of Derek's senior season.
"He's a trooper. I get choked up talking about it now," Derek said. "For my team around me to encourage me meant a lot. And for Marcel (Jensen, a Fresno State tight end) to be there for me, he was there for encouragement or if I needed to laugh. That's what my team was for. I was having to run from practice to the NICU at the hospital. Just to have guys like that to be able to encourage me meant a lot to me and my family."
Carr said Dallas is doing well now and his wife is sending pictures of the two of them at the beach while Carr is attending the NFL Scouting Combine to pursue his professional dream. There was a time Carr wasn't sure those moments would be possible.
Dallas was born eight days early, which turned out to be a very good thing.
"If my son was born on time, he wouldn't live. He couldn't keep anything down. He was throwing up six feet," Carr said. "We rushed him to surgery and doctors were saying he might not live. The Colorado game that got canceled (Sept. 14) for us was the day of his last surgery. Things happen for a reason, right? Games don't get canceled in college football, but that one did. I've been pulled off the field when I think Dallas is doing great and they'll say Dallas is going back into surgery and I run up the ramp bawling my eyes out because I can't do anything to help my son but pray for him. But he's doing great now, has no problems. The doctors said if we never tell him what happened, he'll never know, so we're very blessed."
In the midst of all kinds of questions about his football skills and history, which Carr handles with uncanny savvy, he took time to thank reporters that asked about his son.
Analysts can question Carr's future in the NFL, but he says he doesn't pay attention to the draft rankings or analysis. His brother, David, the No. 1 overall pick of the Houston Texans in the 2002 draft, has taught him that criticisms and praise don't matter when coming from the outside.
But this week, Carr is getting plenty of time to hear from the true insiders – the general managers and coaches in the NFL.
"They're not going to sugarcoat anything for me," he said. "I love what people say outside of those circles. It's fun for me to hear because I know what the teams are saying and what they're telling me. It's been really good so far."
After what he's been through personally in the last six months, Carr is able to take everything in stride these days.
"I've been through some adversity. For doctors to tell me my son might not live, there is nothing anyone can do or say that can affect me," he said. "My priorities in life are my faith, my family and then football. You can say whatever you want about me, but I'm going to give everything I have to whatever team I'm on."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Carr survives personal test; pro test next
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