When Adam Carriker played football at Kennewick High School, his dream was to play for Nebraska.
That dream came true, and a lengthy NFL career soon followed.
Saturday, Carriker will be honored for his contributions to the Cornhuskers when he is inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame.
“It’s very cool,” Carriker said of the honor. “Growing up, my dad (David) was a huge Husker fan, and I don’t think he realized how much that rubbed off on me. We’d watch NFL games come the playoffs, but I have always enjoyed watching college football. Every game just matters more.”
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Carriker, who played at Nebraska from 2003-06, will be inducted with kickers Kris Brown (1995-98) and the late Dean Sukup (1978-79), and offensive lineman Scott Raridon (1981-83).
A two-time all-Big 12 defensive end, Carriker started 34 games at Nebraska. His final two seasons, he recorded 33 tackles for loss, including 16 1/2 sacks.
His junior year, he tied for the Big 12 lead with 9 1/2 sacks, ranking him 19th nationally.
He was named the Nebraska defensive MVP and first-team all-Big 12 his junior and senior years, and was the Big 12 defensive lineman of the year as a senior.
Carriker, 32, was living the Nebraska dream. The only hiccup along the way came his junior year, when an article came out early in the season questioning whether he would stay for his senior season or go pro.
“I didn’t even think of the NFL until then,” Carriker said. “I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ My lifelong dream was to play at Nebraska, so I waited another year. It worked out fine. I have no complaints.”
Carriker grew up thinking his pro career would be on the baseball field, where his fastball was clocked at 95 mph. The 2002 Kennewick High graduate was a three-time all-Big Nine player on the diamond and led the league in home runs each year.
“My first memories are playing T-ball in the backyard with my dad,” Carriker said. “Everything was just competitive sports. I went hunting, fishing and camping for the first time when I was 23. Our tradition at Christmas growing up was to ski at White Pass. Once I got to college and the NFL, there was no more of that.”
He was a three-year starter at quarterback for the Lions and didn’t play defensive end until his senior year, recording 25 tackles and 15 sacks.
Carriker made visits to Oregon, Oregon State, Washington State and UCLA, and he entertained offers from other schools to play quarterback. But Nebraska was his first choice.
By the end of his college career, Carriker had worked his way into the Nebraska record books. His 41 career tackles for loss rank fifth in the program’s history, while his 20 1/2 career sacks rank sixth.
Carriker played in the Senior Bowl before being selected in the first round (13th overall) of the 2007 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams, one pick after the Buffalo Bills selected Marshawn Lynch, and one in front of Darrelle Revis, who went to the New York Jets.
At the end of his senior season, Carriker married Angie McBride, the sister of teammate Jeff McBride. The bachelor party was on a Friday, he graduated Saturday with a degree in business administration, and got married Sunday. The following week, he played his final college game in the Cotton Bowl, where the Huskers suffered a 17-14 loss to Auburn.
A majority of NFL rookies see limited playing time, but the Rams threw Carriker in the deep end right away, hoping he could make a difference.
With a lucrative five-year, $14.5 million contract in hand, Carriker started all 16 games as a rookie, a first for the Rams. A defensive end at Nebraska, St. Louis had a need at nose guard, and despite his size and inexperience at the position, he embraced it. By the end of the season, he had played every position on the line.
“I started every position on the D-line in St. Louis in a 4-3 and in a 3-4 in Washington,” Carriker said. “There was a drive against San Francisco my rookie year that I played every position during that drive. I would have about seven seconds to know what I was supposed to do and figure it out. I assume I did good.”
At the end of the season, he was named the Rams’ Rookie of the Year.
During his first three seasons in the NFL, Carriker played more downs than any other defensive lineman in the league, despite shoulder and ankle injuries suffered during his third season.
Offseason surgeries wiped out his 2010 season, and he was traded to the Washington Redskins.
He played 16 games in 2011, and 2012 was looking good until Week 2 — against the Rams — when he suffered a right knee injury. It would be his last NFL game. The Redskins released him March 4, 2014.
“I miss it,” Carriker said. “It took me a solid two years to accept it was over. I just got to the point recently that I am at peace with it. I have five kids, and I want to be there for them.”
An avid professional wrestling fan, Carriker got a call from WWE owner Vince McMahon to compete in the ring, but he turned down the offer.
“They said, ‘we’d love to have you be a part of it,’ but I wasn’t quite done with football yet,” said Carriker, who impressed at the 2015 veteran combine, but did not get an offer. “When I was done, they said to come on down to Orlando. The WWE is a lot harder and a lot tougher than what you expect, and a lot of people quit. It’s all scripted, and it’s based on whether the fans like you. You are on the road like 300 days a year, and you never get to see your family. Angie gave her blessing, but I couldn’t do it.”
When Carriker played at Kennewick, he was a monster by high school standards at 6-foot-6, 220 pounds. That wasn’t going to cut it at Nebraska.
“By the time I was a senior, I was 295 pounds,” Carriker said.
Carriker put on a few more pounds in the NFL, reaching 320 during his days with the Washington Redskins. But he didn’t want to carry that bulk around after he retired.
“When I retired, I was 315,” he said. “I had a goal earlier this year to lose 100 pounds and get to 220. I got there. I will never forget when I was at 240 and I didn’t want to go anymore. But I met my goal.”
Then, Carriker rewarded himself with a donut, or two, or 12.
“I went to Dunkin’ Donuts, and I got a dozen donuts,” he said. “Thinking I would eat six, I ate all 12. I didn’t like being that skinny. I’m at 260 now. I like how I look and feel.”
Since he officially retired in 2015, Carriker has had his hands in a lot of pies.
He and his wife, Angie, have five children: son Jacob, 7, and daughters Addison, 5, Trinity, 4, and twins Dakota and Desiree, who are 13 months old.
They live in Loveland, Colo., where they enjoy skiing and “doing outdoor stuff.”
They get back to Kennewick every couple of years or so to visit his parents, David and Nancy.
“It’s easier for them to travel than our crew,” Carriker said.
With his football playing days in the rearview mirror, Carriker still has an impact on the sport with his video blog Carriker Chronicles, where he offers a preview and review of Nebraska football, and soon will do the same with the Washington Redskins. His show is on HuskerMax.com and newspaper websites in Nebraska, and it is being picked up by USA Today.
“This is weird because I hated the media when I played,” Carriker said. “I did everything I could to avoid them. Now, I’m one of them.”
Last year, Carriker wrote articles, but David Max, who works with him to promote his pieces, suggested doing a video.
“It’s easier to do a five-minute video than a story,” Carriker said. “I’m used to doing an hour show. I could have filled 20 minutes with what I have. It’s a learning curve.”
Carriker had a radio show in the D.C. area and has appeared live on Fox Business a handful of times and on Fox News.
Carriker’s first take on Nebraska football this season had more than 10,000 views within the first few hours.
“I love football, and I love to throw in a few jokes and instill my personality,” Carriker said of his show.
Even with a big family and hectic life, Carriker still makes time for college football on Saturdays. Last weekend, he shared that passion with his son.
“This is the first year we spent all day Saturday watching football,” Carriker said. “He was asking questions and playing with his football.”
Sounds like a story we’ve heard before.
Oh, what a draft
Adam Carriker was taken 13th overall in the 2007 draft by the St. Louis Rams, sandwiched between Buffalo’s pick of a running back out of Cal named Marshawn Lynch and the New York Jets taking Pitt cornerback Darrelle Revis.
No fewer than 34 Pro Bowlers were drafted in 2007. Among them: Calvin Johnson (No. 2 overall), Adrian Peterson (No. 7), Patrick Willis (No. 11) and Greg Olsen (No. 31, by the Bears and later traded to the Panthers).
The Seahawks’ top pick was second-rounder Josh Wilson, a cornerback from Maryland. But the real prize came in the third round in Cal defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.
With all that, the 2007 draft is most famous for one thing: JaMarcus Russell.
The LSU quarterback was taken first overall by the Oakland Raiders. Three years later, he was released by the Raiders and is often regarded as the biggest bust in NFL draft history.