Mark Carrier couldn't wait to get to the NFL as a player, but has had to be patient to move up as a coach.
Carrier, who was a first-team All-USA selection in 1985 as a defensive back at Long Beach Poly, always took the sport seriously, said current Poly football coach Raul Lara, who played at Poly a few years ahead of Carrier.
"You could tell he was going to be a great one," Lara said. "Obviously, he was the leader of the team. He got everybody going. He took everything seriously and that's why he's been successful his whole life."
Carrier went from Poly to Southern Cal and was a three-year starter with the Trojans, including his junior season when he won the Jim Thorpe award as the nation's top defensive back.
He turned pro after his junior year, and was the No. 6 pick in the 1990 draft of the Chicago Bears. He had 10 interceptions his rookie year, a team record, and was the league's Defensive Rookie of the Year. He made the Pro Bowl as a safety three times in an 11-year career that included stops with the Bears, the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins. Despite a pro career that included 108 consecutive starts, he went back to USC in the offseason and got his bachelor's degree in 1993.
Even as a player, he was looking ahead, becoming one of the few active players to do broadcast work. He retired from the Redskins in 2000 and got into broadcasting. His first foray into coaching came as an flag football coach of his son Mac's team in Phoenix.
From there, Carrier started coaching the secondary at Brophy Prep (Phoenix). In 2004, he became the cornerbacks coach at Arizona State. In 2006, he landed his first NFL job as the Baltimore Ravens' secondary coach. Four years later, in 2010, he took on a different role, as defensive line coach of the New York Jets. Last winter, he signed with the Bengals as the team's defensive backs coach.
Now 44, his career has come full circle as he works with first-round draft choice Dre Kirkpatrick.