NFL quarterback Derek Carr has a message for aspiring college students about the power of a Fresno State education: “We know our potential is limitless, because we’ve seen what Bulldogs can do.”

That line is part of Carr’s voiceover in the university’s new institutional ad, a 30-second TV commercial that will debut during Fresno State’s football season opener at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2, at Purdue. The game will air on the Big Ten Network and is one of 11 nationally televised Bulldogs games this season – including games on Fox, FS1, FS2 and CBS Sports.

Each year, the university produces an institutional ad that airs during football, basketball and other broadcasts, such as ABC’s “Bulldog Breakdown.” This year’s spot features Carr’s message of what it means to be a Bulldog.

David Carr led Fresno State as high as a No. 8 national ranking in 2001 before becoming the school's first No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick.

David Carr led Fresno State as high as a No. 8 national ranking in 2001 before becoming the school’s first No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick. (Photos by Cary Edmondson.)

For him, it’s deeply personal. Long before Derek Carr starred for the Bulldogs from 2009-13, he remembers sitting in the Valley Children’s Stadium stands as a 10-year-old, looking up to his big brother David Carr, who led Fresno State football to national acclaim in 2001. David went on to land the cover of Sports Illustrated that magical season before becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.

David Carr, who is now an analyst for NFL Network, is also featured prominently in the spot. He appears in a TV studio setting while Derek Carr says, “those who came before us, motivate us to dream big.”

“We are always honored to participate in projects that involve Fresno State,” David Carr said. “I cherish the relationships from my time on campus, and I know Derek does, too. We hope everyone who sees this commercial is inspired to consider Fresno State and the impact it can make on their family’s education and career goals.”

The spot also highlights other alumni who are leaders in their fields, including Sarah Holland, a registered nurse at Valley Children’s Hospital who is shown in the ad wearing a Fresno State-branded surgical cap while caring for her patient. Also featured is Chase Schapansky, a 2015 mechanical engineering graduate who is now the chief technology officer for GUSS Automation, an ag tech company that develops autonomous sprayers.

Two students are highlighted in the ad, including kinesiology major Ally Barriga, a member of the Fresno State dance team who is shown looking up at the giant trees at Sequoia National Park. Fresno is known as the largest city in the United States that sits within about an hour’s drive of three national parks (Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia). 

Graduate student Corbin Callaway is featured for her ceramic artwork. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Fresno State in 2019 and is teaching art at Yosemite Valley Charter School while pursuing her master’s at Fresno State.

Derek Carr became the Bulldogs' career leader in passing yards (12,842) from 2009-13. He went on to the NFL, rewriting the Raiders record books, before joining the New Orleans Saints in 2023.

Derek Carr became the Bulldogs’ career leader in passing yards (12,842) from 2009-13. He went on to the NFL, rewriting the Raiders record books, before joining the New Orleans Saints in 2023.

“When it comes time for a prospective student to choose a college or career, we want students all over the Valley, state and nation to know that there are no limits to how far a Fresno State education can elevate you, your family and your community,” said University President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval. “Alumni like those featured in this commercial are living, breathing proof of what Bulldogs can do. Big dreams come to life when hard work and focus fuse with the world-class education Fresno State provides.  That’s why I’m always giddy at the start of a new academic year – it’s 6,000 more students who are about to unveil the best versions of themselves.”

Fresno State began its 113th academic year on Aug. 21, with a projected enrollment of 23,507 students and more than 242,000 living alumni. 

In 2022, Fresno State was one of just five universities nationally to appear in both the Washington Monthly top 40 universities ranking and the college football Associated Press top 25 poll. In May, the university announced its Elevate campaign, a multi-year vision for the modernization of athletics facilities to position Fresno State for the future.

The university is a driver for social mobility in Central California – about 65% of students are the first in their families to attend college, while many others continue a proud family legacy as second- or third-generation Bulldogs.

“My brother and I are very proud of our alma mater,” said Derek Carr, who is currently in his first season with the New Orleans Saints after nine record-breaking years with the Raiders. “I am so grateful for the education and experiences I received at Fresno State, and I hope many others will take advantage of the opportunity to be Bulldogs.”