Tonight’s Territorial Cup may not be game’s only trophy

Everyone knows the Territorial Cup trophy goes to the winner of tonight’s rivalry game between Arizona and Arizona State.  But there may be another trophy on the line, without either head coach realizing it.

The ‘trophy’ in question is Ka’Deem Carey, the dynamic running back at Canyon del Oro High School in Tucson (Oro Valley).  He was last year’s Big Schools Player of the Year as a junior and gave a verbal commitment to Arizona head coach, Mike Stoops, in early June.

But at Tuesday’s news conference at the AIA offices, promoting the 4A championship games this Saturday, Carey indicated he might be having second thoughts and could be re-considering an offer from Arizona State that was on the table when he accepted the Wildcats’ offer.

And he said he plans on being there for tonight’s Duel in the Desert in Tucson.  If he’s waiting to see the teams play, the outcome could factor into his decision on whether to honor his verbal commitment to Arizona.

Yes, its’ just one recruit.  Colleges lose them all the time because verbal commitments aren’t binding.

But this one is special and could have a significant impact on the UofA program in the future.

When Stoops added Carey to his list of players he had corralled for the Class of 2011, the 5’9″, 184 lb. running back was the only one out of 20 commitments at that position.  Stoops had been focused like a laser on reeling Carey in and was expecting him to be a major contributor as early as his freshman year.

It wouldn’t be the first time Carey has changed his mind about where he wanted to play.  He was reportedly planning on accepting an offer from USC, but changed his mind when that school was hit with NCAA sanctions and Pete Carroll moved on to the NFL as the head coach at Seattle.

ASU evidently had verbally made an offer to Carey, but the Cats put it in writing.

To understand the impact Carey would have to the Arizona program, think what happened when the Detroit Lions picked up Pro Bowl running back, Barry Sanders.  He carried the team on his 5’8″ frame to five playoffs and two division titles.

The kid from Canyon del Oro is patterned a lot like Sanders: an extremely quick, elusive runner that is balanced and difficult to bring down.  He will likely be one of the most exciting runners in college football, regardless of where he lands.

When he committed to the Cats, Carey was coming off a junior year that saw him run for 2,738 yards and 43 touchdowns, averaging an incredible 12 yards a carry.

This year, his numbers are down somewhat due to the fact that he has missed three games with injuries.  But he’s still accounted for 24 rushing touchdowns for the undefeated Dorados, who meet Saguaro High School from Scottsdale for the 4A-I championship Saturday.

That will be a grudge match of major proportions.  CDO put a 44-0 whipping on Saguaro last year to end the school’s 37-game winning streak.  And the Dorados beat the Scottsdale powerhouse again at the start of October, in a game when Carey did the lion’s share of the damage, rushing 18 times for 274 yards – that’s 15 yards a carry.

He is ranked statistically as the fifth-best running back in the state, and No. 1 in the region, averaging 158 yards a game and just over nine yards each time he touches the ball.

And that’s why Mike Stoops wants to see him in red and blue next year.

He has big plans for this young man.  But we’ll have to see if that still goes both ways.