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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Carey looks like high school self

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Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Arizona Wildcats scrimmage at Arizona Stadium Saturday, Aug 20, 2011.

With every prized recruit comes the same warning label: Don’t expect too much too quickly. Wildcats fans learned that last season with four-star recruit Marquis Flowers and in 2009 with fellow four-star safety Adam Hall.

The jump from high school football to the collegiate level is no easy feat for an 18-year-old kid, and hoisting the short-term future of a program on a pair of brand new shoulder pads is counterproductive for both the prodigy and the team.

But if Saturday’s Meet The Team scrimmage was any indication, freshman running back Ka’Deem Carey may allow coaches to remove that caution tape sooner rather than later.

Against the Wildcats’ second and third-string defense, Carey darted all over the field showcasing his combination of power, lateral quickness and straight-line speed. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound back racked up 69 rushing yards on eight carries and ripped off a punishing 42-yard kick return to cap off his coming out party in front of his hometown fans.

“I love what Ka’Deem’s doing,” said head coach Mike Stoops after the scrimmage. “You can see what a lift he gives our team. He gives us a special quality back there. We have to keep bringing him along. He’s an electrifying runner. He’s a big, physical kid that has breakaway speed.

“He’s a very complete player. It’s just a matter of getting him repetitions and getting him comfortable in our offense. If we continue to do that he’ll continue to get more playing time as he gets more consistent.”

Arizona running backs coach Garret Chachere said this was by far Carey’s best performance since he joined the Wildcats for training camp. Quarterback Nick Foles echoed that statement and applauded Carey’s growth from simply a raw talent to a back finally starting to conceptualize Arizona’s offensive attack.

“Tonight I saw him grow up a little bit,” Foles said. “He started playing faster, he’s still got a ways to go. We’ve got to keep pushing him because he’s going to be a talented player for this university. Everybody saw it tonight, a freshman running all over the place. He’s going to get with our strength coach, continue to learn the offense and he’s going to help us this year.”

It didn’t take long for Carey to show coaches, players and the 7,000-plus fans at Arizona Stadium why he was tabbed the state’s seventh-best recruit by Rivals.com. Carey rushed for 2,738 yards and 45 touchdowns his junior year at Canyon Del Oro High School before racking up 1,754 yards and 26 touchdowns throughout an injury-riddled senior year.

His skill-set and grasp of the Wildcats’ schemes finally came full-circle on Saturday night, and if he continues to progress he could become more than just a third-string running back.

He’s currently battling sophomore Kylan Butler, who missed the scrimmage due to a family funeral, and fellow freshman speedster Jared Baker for that third spot, yet he has the potential to possibly take some carries from Keola Antolin and Daniel Jenkins as well.

But Chachere made it clear that although he’s on the right path, Carey is still early in his development. It’s tough to expect too much production from a young man who just graduated high school and attended his senior prom. Add in the fact that Carey is Tucson’s prodigy and the pressure grows even further.

“The challenge is taking a freshman and anointing him the next Archie Griffin, the two-time Heisman Trophy winner. He doesn’t need that pressure,” Chachere said. “He’s just trying to be the best Ka’Deem Carey he can be and that’s all we want him to be, and as you’ve seen tonight that’s plenty good enough. Right now he’s doing a very nice job and we’re very excited about his progress.”

So far, so good for the CDO High School product. With less than two weeks until Arizona’s season opener against NAU, Stoops said he has no idea how many carries the freshman will see against the Lumberjacks. But, after Saturday, Stoops does know that the Wildcats may be able to take the training wheels off a little sooner than expected.

“He’s going to play,” Chachere said. “If he continues to progress on the field like he has been and in the meeting rooms and off the field in the film study, then he’ll get his chance to play.”

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