LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Ka’Deem Carey feeds off being snubbed.
He loves when people tell him he can’t do something or that someone else is better than him.
Now, he’s going to have some fuel for a while.
Boston College’s Andre Williams bested Carey on Thursday night at Disney World’s Atlantic Dance Hall as the winner of the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s best running back.
It’s the second time this week Williams has gotten the best of Carey. On Monday, he was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy over Carey.
“If you look in my eyes right now, I probably have a fierce look,” Carey said. “Now I have some motivation going forward. You just take it in and use it as motivation. That’s all you can do. A negative thing, you turn into a positive thing and that’s all I’m going to do. You have to put in the work and keep grinding.
“Obviously I wasn’t the best this year, so now I’m going to strive to be the best in the future.”
Carey didn’t leave Disney World with the Doak Walker Award. He does, however, depart with an experience he said he’ll never forget.
Carey was named a first-team Walter Camp All-American for the second straight year on Thursday and had a day that would make any young person jealous.
The running back spent the morning at Disney’s Magic Kingdom with his mom and members of Arizona’s athletic department. The man who isn’t a fan of roller coasters even worked up the courage to ride Space Mountain, the prized ride at Magic Kingdom. He gave the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad a whirl and even got dizzy riding the tea cups.
“Man, that was crazy,” Carey said.
After spending a few hours at the theme park, he attended a lunch with other nominees. Carey was also interviewed live by ESPN on Disney’s Boardwalk along with Williams and Washington’s Bishop Sankey, the other finalist for the Doak Walker Award.
“That was real cool,” Carey said of the interview. “It was just like watching on TV. I felt comfortable up there.”
After a short nap, Carey arrived at the hall for the Home Depot College Football Awards Show, where the winner of the Doak Walker Award was announced. Carey, wearing a black suit, a blue dress shirt and a red and blue tie, walked the red carpet with fans lined up on both sides, cheering for him.
“I felt official,” Carey said of walking the red carpet. “I thought I was in California walking down the real red carpet. It’s a cool thing they have down here.”
The first nominee to walk the red carpet, Carey got close to an hour to soak in the experience with his mom, Tisha, and UA running backs coach Calvin Magee. The UA assistant coach made the trek from Tucson on Thursday to be in Florida for the award presentation.
Magee has served as Carey’s personal tutor the past two seasons and knows how his running back handles disappointing news.
“I think he likes the challenge of proving people wrong who doubt him,” Magee said. “I don’t know how you could doubt a guy who was the leading rusher in the country and have the season he did here this year. But for him, it’s motivation.
“I hope they keep leaving him off of things.”
Carey is scheduled to leave Florida early this morning and is hopeful he will make it back to Tucson in time for this afternoon’s practice.
It’s possible this stretch of practices leading up to the AdvoCare V100 Bowl on Dec. 31 could be his final workouts at the UA. As he’s said all along, Carey will sit down with Magee, Rich Rodriguez, his mom and others and discuss his decision after the bowl game.
Carey said this week’s results — being left out of the Heisman finalists and being bypassed for the Doak Walker — could have an impact on his decision to stay or go.
“The awards have a lot to do with my decision and coming back and all that,” Carey said. “I have a lot to prove. I’m making progress, but I’m not close to being done.”
Magee said every time he mentions the NFL to Carey, the running back sidesteps the topic like he does defenders on the field.
But whether it’s next season or 2015, Magee thinks his pupil will be successful at the next level.
“There’s no question in my mind he’s an NFL guy,” Magee said. “His work ethic, his toughness, his vision, the way he finishes runs are all off the charts. He’s a complete back. He does everything you want a running back to do. He can catch it, he can block and he can flat out tote it. Those are the three things you want from a running back.”
But one thing Carey wants, he still doesn’t have — the Doak Walker Award.
“It was a goal of mine to come here, and I made it here,” Carey said. “Now I have to punch it through and get the award. It was a great experience to be here, but there’s more left out there.”