UA football gets a game-breaker in Ka’Deem Carey

Thank you, Pete Carroll.

The misfortunes of the USC football program in 2010 will have an indirect impact on the University of Arizona football program in 2011.

When Carroll, the Trojans’ former’ football coach, left USC to move to the pro ranks and the NCAA hit the school with sanctions resulting from issues during his reign over the program, it turned one of recruiting’s hottest prospects back toward Arizona.

Ka’Deem Carey, the state’s top high school running back, was leaning toward USC when the sanctions came down on the Trojans.  The offer he was waiting for no longer held the same esteem he had once attached to the school.

USC’s football program was hit with a two-year bowl ban and four years of probation after the NCAA determined the school had exhibited a “lack of institutional control” over the program.

So Carey, a junior at Canyon del Oro High School in Tucson, decided to stay at home and carry the ball for the Wildcats after his senior year.  He verbally committed last week, along with Salpointe Catholic offensive lineman, Jacob Arzouman – a banner week for Coach Mike Stoops and his staff!

A lot of other schools showed an interest in the 5’9″, 184 lb. running back, including big names like Miami and Nebraska.  Worse yet, there were Pac-10 schools interested, including UCLA, Oregon, Oregon State, California… and ASU!  The Sun Devils reportedly had a scholarship offer on the table.

But most schools were tentative in their interest, waiting to see if Carey would begin to show improvement academically.  Hitting the books has not been one of the young man’s strengths, but he says that is changing.

Stoops didn’t let that bother him.  When Carey made his campus tour last Friday, the coach gathered together his staff and his academic advisers and helped Carey lay out an academic game plan to get him into the college and help keep him eligible.

What he is getting for his effort is one of the country’s top high school junior running backs statistically – 2,738 yards for 43 touchdowns -who will probably be one of the most exciting runners in college football.  He averaged 12 yards a carry last year.

He has the whole package… footwork, balance, and a strong foundation.  And speed.  He claims to have run a 4.4 forty-yard dash and uses that speed to hit the holes on the line, and then accelerate going through them.

Think Barry Sanders when he was running for the Detroit Lions.

And Stoops knew how important the kid can be to his future.  He doesn’t have a single running back in the 20 players signed in this year’s recruiting class.  That was on purpose, insiders say.  He was waiting for Carey.  So Carey will have the opportunity to step right into the line-up as a freshman.

That class included five recruits from the state, which is the highest total of in-state prospects in recent years.  But none are like the kid from Canyon del Oro.

Carey even has his own video that has become something of a sensation on the internet.  It shows him as a freshman, hurdling a defender at the goal line, then doing a full flip and landing on his feet for the score.

He had nothing to do with the internet posting.  That’s not his style.  The kid is unassuming and humble for someone with his kind of talent.  He should be a very coachable player when he gets to Tucson.

He will join with a transfer from the University of Texas, also in the class of 2011 because he will have to sit out 2010, who will give the Wildcats a dual threat.  Dan Buckner, 6-4 and 215 lbs., played for the Longhorns as a true freshman and caught 49 passes during his two years there.

But right now, Carey is looking ahead to his senior year in high school.  He says he wants to rush for 3,000 yards next year, win a state championship, and wrap up the Gatorade Player of the Year trophy.

Which would draw a lot of interest.

So Stoops’ job is to keep him wrapped up in Wildcat colors until he can get him signed and on the practice field a year from now.