After participating in a bowl game this postseason,Fresno State will be tasked with having to find replacements for key players from the graduating class of 22 seniors that were honored before Saturday’s 48-15 win against Air Force.
But they won’t have to worry about replacing junior quarterback Derek Carr.
Carr put to rest recent speculations that he would forego his last year of NCAA eligibility to enter the NFL Draft a year early.
“I am coming back next year,” said Carr, wearing a commemorative championship hat and hoisting the conference trophy on his lap.
“I kind of knew,” he said. “We were just playing with you guys for awhile. I am coming back, so you can kill all of that.”
Carr, who is set to graduate this December, helped the Bulldogs capture a share of the Mountain West Conference crown their first year in the conference.
Carr completed 28 of 32 passes for 452 yards and four touchdowns against Air Force.
His performance earned him two separate national accolades. The Walter Camp Foundation selected Carr as its National Offensive Player of the Week. Carr was also named National Performer of the Week and National Quarterback of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards.
This season, Carr has thrown for 3,742 yards, 36 touchdowns and five interceptions.
“Hard work pays off. I’m a firm believer in that,” Carr said. “You know personally how hard you’ve worked, and when it comes to fruition like this – and you get to hold this trophy and wear this hat – you know you did something right.”
Before Carr made his official announcement to stay at Fresno State for a final year, coach Tim DeRuyter said he was “expecting him to come back.”
“I think he’s just scratched the surface right now,” DeRuyter said.
“I think that as good of a quarterback as he is, he could be the greatest in Fresno State history. And he’s got one more year to do that.
“We haven’t had a Heisman Trophy winner here. We haven’t gone to a BCS bowl. Those things are out there for a great leader like him. I think that’s a challenge that he’s looking forward to.”
Fresno State (9-3, 7-1) will compete in a bowl game this postseason and attempt to reach 10 wins for the season – a benchmark last achieved during the 2001 season when the Bulldogs finished 11-3 with older brother David behind center.
David was selected as the No. 1 overall draft pick by the Houston Texans in the 2002 NFL Draft.
“I’m going to enjoy this, but we’ve still got one more (game) to go, Carr said. “We haven’t won double-digit games here in awhile. We still have to get that 10th win.
“This whole season, I knew I wanted to win a conference championship because I wanted to finish what he (David) started. And that’s the whole reason I came here.”
Fresno State has not received confirmation as to which Mountain West bowl game it will participate in this postseason.