All time Fresno State graduates
The all time leading passer of Fresno State comes from a football pedigree. Born to the brother of 49er tight end Lon Boyett, David attended Stockdale High School until 1997 when he commited to Fresno State University. Carr would not see the field as a true freshman except for brief stints and stop gap plays, ending the year 5 of 11 through 4 games played with no touchdowns and one interception. The pedestrian statistics of his freshman year did not deter the older of rhe Carr brothers as he went on to play for Fresno state all 4 years. The following season was more of the same for David playing in only 7 games but improving his passer rating from 67.7 his freshman year to 103.5 his sophomore year, his completion to attempt ratio also shot upwards showing the potential of the future #1 overall pick. The following year the reigns of the program were handed to a young David Carr with the departure of the previous quarterback, playing in the most games he had up until that point Carr completed an unflashy 194 of 316 with a lowly 18 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. The unremarkable career Carr had until that point was completly flipped on it's head his senior year when he finished fifth in the country-wide heisman voting. throwing for 42 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions and raising his passer rating to a nearly perfect 166.8 playing in 13 games. Carr's senior season was good enough to win the Johnny Unitas golden arm award. Ultimately the older Carr's resume was impressive enough to be selected as the number one overall pick of the 2002 NFL draft to the Houston Texans. Carr's potential was not realized completely due to the incompetence of the Texan's front office, starting his career going 4-12 and setting the record for being sacked as.a rookie. The team wildly underperformed but so did Carr as he went 233-444 throwing 9 touchdowns to 15 interceptions, a worse statline than his freshman year of college. Through all the disfunction flashes of young David's talent would shine through ultimately finishing 4th in the offensive rookie of the year Associated Press voting. The next few years would be more of the same for Carr as he would shatter the record for being sacked the most through the first 5 years of a career having a 24-56 win-loss record and being sacked 249 times. Ultimately Carr's eleven year NFL career is one of missed potential and unrealized dreams, while blaming David is an easily accepted explanation but looking deeper one may find a front office unwilling to protect their young quarterback or surround him with offensive talent. The best year the newly franchised Texans had under Carr's reign was 2004, the second year recieving phenom Andre Johnson had with Carr and the only year of a decent talent pool. Though not blameless one cannot help but wonder what a talent like David Carr would look like in a premier organization.
Fresno State has a wide range of football talent across generations, among these names is Kevin Sweeney. Starting his football career at Bullard High School Sweeney set the records for career touchdowns, career yards, as well as single season touchdowns, completions and yards. These records set in 1981 stand tall more than 40 years later with no shortage of competition this impressive feat was just the start of a long football career for a young Kevin Sweeney. Following his unparalleled high school career Sweeney committed to the local Fresno State University located less than 4 miles from his High School. Starting his collegiate career 166 of 334 with 16 touchdowns to a staggering 19 interceptions did not deter Sweeney from becoming the second all time passing leader at the school where he would develop into a NFL level quarterback. The following year Sweeney would light up opposing scoreboards to the tune of 3.259 yards, going 227/421 with 20 touchdowns to only 13 interceptions. Though the record did not reflect it Kevin had established himself as a made man at a school competing with national powerhouses like San Jose State, Hawaii and Cal Poly. Sweeney parlayed the improvements made in the 84 season to have a career year, going completely undefeated and leading the bulldogs to only their second ever NCAA division I-A bowl game berth and a PCAA championship. Following his accomplishment filled junior year kevin would have a nearly identical season the following year statistically but the team would regress to a 9-2 record and no championships. While having his father as the head coach of the Fresno State football team Kevin Sweeney broke Doug Flutie's NCAA all time yards passing record set half a decade before. With a resume as complete as Sweeney's one might expect a decade long productive NFL career, this is not the case for the Fresno State quarterback as he was drafted in the 7th round. by the Dallas Cowboys, where he would spend his two seasons in the NFL. Sweeney only started 4 games and played in 6 throughout his professional career going 47-106 for 605 yards with 7 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. One can forgive the pedestrian career a talent like Sweeney had when put into context of the mediocrity the mid-80s Cowboys embody. From dynastic superbowl runs to a .500 football team after being purchased by oil mogul Jerry Jones the Cowboys became a middle of the field team incapable of having stable quarterback play or competent player management. While not an all time NFL quarterback Sweeney deserves to be listed among Fresno's preeminent talents.
Defensive talent is just as prominent in Fresno State as offensive talent is, one of these talents is James Earl Williams. Williams played cornerback at Fresno state as a walk-on track star. Boasting a 10.58 100 meter dash and a nearly 40 inch vertical JD was a nightmare matchup for any wide receiver especially those in a less talented conference like the Big West. Not just a shutdown corner, Williams was a physical threat to the running game recording nearly 60 tackles and 4 sacks in the 89 season. Chief among his contributions is the impact he had on special teams blocking 6 field goals during the 88 season. A talent like Williams does not go unnoticed especially in a league as hungry as the NFL. The Buffalo Bills selected JD as the 16th overall selection of the 1990 NFL draft, expecting a franchise player the bills mortgaged the future of their defense on the talent that a player like Williams would bring to a perpetually struggling defense. Williams would play just 4 seasons with the bills never recording more than two interceptions in a calendar year. JD's performance woes would see him find a new home the following season with the Arizona Cardinals for just one season, recording a career high 4 interceptions and 40 tackles. Williams would transition to coaching at the end of his career in an effort to give back. He is currently the cornerbacks coach of the Fresno State Bulldogs where he teaches the next generation of cornerback talent from California.
Fresno State's defensive back legacy is nearly as extensive as it's quarterback legacy. Cory Hall played at Fresno State from 1996- 1998 as a defensive back moving all around the field. He started his freshman campaign with a bang recording two interceptions his first year and playing in 11 games. Hall would continue his steady production for the next two years before declaring for the 1999 draft class. During the draft process Hall was seen as more of a safety due to his 4.52 40 yard dash which would qualify him as "slow" at the professional level, his 5'9 in frame and his below average weight of 205 lbs. Hall would be selected in the third round by the Cincinnati Bengals, a notoriously cheap franchise with out of date facilities and practice. Here is where Hall would have the best years of his career establishing himself as a versatile defensive back who could play free safety as easily as he could play strong safety or cornerback. Hall stayed with the Bengals for 4 years where he became a tackling machine from his outfield type position. Missing two games in the 02 season changed the course of the Fresno State alumni career. Cory was sent to Atlanta where he would send the last two years of his career in a productive fashion before transitioning to the more fulfilling job of coaching. Much like his fellow alumni Hall went to the coaching side of football in an effort to help the next generation, spending the first few years of his coaching career with the legendary University of Wisconsin, before moving onto Oregon State University serving as their interim head coach for six games during the 2017 season. Today Hall is the defensive backs coach at the University of Central Michigan where he has developed NFL talent for the last
Though Fresno's talent pool skews towards it's Football programs the city has produced it's fair share of basketball prospects. Chief among these talents is Roderick Dwayne Higgins, averaging nearly double digit points per game his freshman year Higgins displayed all the talent his 6'7 frame had in store for the league. Over the next three years Higgins' points, steals and rebounds would gradually rise to the levels of an NBA draft prospect. Ultimately being drafted in the second round, Higgins would spend the first part of his career with the Chicago Bulls where he played for 3 seasons averaging 10 points his first season 6 the next and 4 the following year. Higgins then bounced around the league until finding a home with the Golden State Warriors for the 86 season. Higgins' career rebirth would see him reach career highs in every statistically significant category from points to assists and rebounds. Higgins would stay with the Warriors until the end of the 92 season and had a brief stint again in the 94 season. Rod's lengthy NBA career is a testament to his work ethic and superb genetic gifts, while not having a eye popping resume a decade plus in one of the hardest professional leagues deserves commendation. This sentiment was shared by the legendary Michael Jordan who hired Higgins as the president of basketball operations, a rare opportunity for someone of Higgins' complexion. Higgins began as the general manager of the team in 2007 and received a promotion in 2011 amid the team's lackluster streak that plagued most of his tenure as an executive. During the 12 years Higgins spent as an executive he would sign his own son Cory Higgins in the 2017 season who had averaged 4 points in ten minutes up until that point, the family reunion was short lived however as the team needed rebounding talent and size over the younger Higgins' scoring ability. True to his duties Rod waived his son, not unlike his playing career Higgins' career as an executive has bright spots like his career with Golden State, Higgins had a hand in the drafting of generational talent Kemba Walker but does not have much to show otherwise.
The most prominent Fresno State alumni is undoubtedly Derek Carr, younger brother of Fresno legend David Carr. Arguably the better of the Carr brothers Derek was played tentatively his freshman season throwing just 14 passes and completing 10 of them the younger Carr was not seen as the great passer he would later become. The first year starting was the worst year Derek had throwing a career high nine interceptions across 13 games and dropping the win/loss record to 4-9 after a previously consistent 8-5 season. Carr's breakout season was year later finishing a with a much improved 9-4 with 37 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions. Carr would continue to build his case as Fresno's best quarterback the very next season, his senior year was by far his best winning 11 of 13 games and recording a staggering 50 touchdowns to only 8 interceptions. Carr's senior campaign cemented him as Fresno State's all time passer, surpassing his brother and previous record holder Kevin Sweeney. Though he had a remarkable collegiate career Derek found himself outside of the first round selections in the 2014 NFL draft, being labeled a "small school quarterback" and being compared to the unlucky career of his brother dropped Fresno's all time leading passer out of the first round. Ultimately, Carr would fall to the infamous Oakland Raiders where he would be embraced by a diehard fanbase and lead the perpetually mediocre team to it's first playoff birth in nearly a decade and half before breaking vertebrae in his back which would alter the course of his promising career. Leading the controversy filled team for 8 years did not rattle the younger Carr who was the leader of a team who lost players for DUI, firearm charges and domestic issues. Through all this Carr maintained his level of play even after having to move the entire franchise a state over to Nevada amid a IRS investigation into the team as well as it's owner. Carr now resides in New Orleans playing for the Saints who have a winning culture and much less controversy.