Back before Ka’Deem was the leading rusher in college football, he was a highly touted recruit from Tucson powerhouse Canyon del Oro High School.
The running back averaged over 2,000 yards and 35 touchdowns a season in his final two years at CDO. He became one of the most coveted players to come out of southern Arizona in recent memory and was supposed to be the gem to Mike Stoop’s 2011 recruiting class.
Then Carey began having second thoughts about whether he wanted to attend his hometown school for college. He began considering whether it would benefit his career if he went against the wishes of his high school friends – and even his own family – by playing in the loathed town of Tempe.
Carey drove two hours up I-10, visited the Arizona State campus, listened to the pitch of playing for Dennis Erickson, and returned home unconvinced of where he should attend.
Two days before National Signing Day, Carey’s high school coach told the Arizona Republic’s Dick Obert that the recruitment was “surprisingly close.”
On February 2, 2011, the answer to Carey’s decision was hidden in a white box decorated with two stickers – one with cardinal and navy blue and one with maroon and gold. As with any press conference, there needed to be excessive drama and a couple seconds of stomach dropping suspense. The twist in this one was that the mom of the star running back had to be the person to open up the box.
In a motion that seemed to take hours but actually took just a few seconds, Carey’s mom furiously tore off the paper covering the box, opened the cardboard, and before anyone could blink, she was joyously screaming.
Her son had chosen to stay home.
And while Carey committed to an entirely different coaching staff and offensive system then the one currently in place, the decision has turned out pretty darn well through the first 23 games of his college career.
He is leading the nation with 1,585 rushing yards and is tied for 4th in the nation in total touchdowns with 20. He, along with the surprisingly efficient Matt Scott at quarterback, have led the Arizona to a 7-4 record, one game better than the Sun Devils’ 6-5.
Arizona State is tied with Arizona in the Pac-12 standings, meaning whoever wins will get not only ultimate bragging rights but a better bowl bid.
The determining factor Friday night may very well be the running back that both schools so recently coveted. If the Sun Devils can contain Carey, odds are exponentially higher that they will have a chance of leaving Tucson with the Territorial Cup trophy than if the running back can put together another Heisman-worthy performance.
The Sun Devils rank middle-of-the-road in run defense, allowing 161 yards per game. However, they have yet to face a running back with the production numbers of Carey. Utah gave up an average of just 110 rushing yards. Carey put up 204 last Saturday.
In a rivalry where craziness is the norm, Carey will be looking for more of the same in his continuing dominance of opposing
He will also have the opportunity to again prove that his decision to stay in Tucson was not only the “best choice” he ever made as he said last week, but the right one. Wanna talk Arizona Football? Check out GoAZWildcats.com for fan discussion and more great coverage of Wildcats Football!