Ka'Deem Carey was stashed down the depth chart during his first training camp as an Arizona Wildcat - the coaching staff's way of tempering expectations for the freshman tailback and Southern Arizona high school legend.
After Saturday night, there's no hiding him.
Carey ran for a team-high 69 yards on eight carries during a balanced, if sometimes sloppy, meet-the-team scrimmage in front of 7,000 fans at Arizona Stadium.
Along the way, Carey showed the promise that followed him down Oracle Road from Canyon del Oro High School to the UA.
"I love what Ka'Deem's doing," coach Mike Stoops said.
The Wildcats had "a pretty good night," Stoops said, in their final dress rehearsal before the Sept. 3 opener against Northern Arizona.
Quarterback Nick Foles completed 10 of 16 passes for 136 yards and one touchdown, a 39-yard pass to Juron Criner.
Cornerback Trevin Wade had two interceptions, and a pair of newcomers - linebacker Hank Hobson and cornerback Tra'Mayne Bondurant - combined for 13 tackles.
One of the Wildcats' old problems, special teams, reappeared Saturday. Alex Zendejas hit a 38-yard field goal but missed a 50-yarder, while Jaime Salazar connected on two of his four attempts.
The scrimmage belonged to a pair of CDO graduates. Walk-on safety Jared Tevis led the defense with nine tackles, while Carey - the Dorados' best player from 2008 to 2010 - carved out some playing time in a cramped backfield. Starter Keola Antolin was held out for precautionary reasons, and backup Daniel Jenkins exited early after rolling his left ankle.
With third-stringer Kylan Butler out of town to attend a family member's funeral, Carey was the Wildcats' best - and almost their last - option.
From his first attempt, the highly touted freshman showed a spark that has his coaches excited. After rushing for 10 yards up the middle and gaining real estate in 3- and 4-yard clips, Carey made his first highlight-reel run of the night. He took a pitch and bounced left toward the sideline, where he outran a handful of defenders before being pushed out of bounds.
The play was called back because of a hold, however, turning Carey's 41-yard rush into a measly 1-yarder.
Carey went for 38 yards a few carries later, beating defenders in a footrace down the sideline.
"You can see what a lift he gives our team," Stoops said. "He's an electrifying runner - a big, physical kid who has great speed."
Carey also comes with big expectations, a main reason he - and the rest of the UA freshmen - have been off-limits to the media since the start of training camp. Few freshmen in recent UA history have been under more scrutiny and more pressure to produce. While safety Adam Hall and offensive lineman Jacob Arzouman achieved great things as Tucson high school players, Carey's flash and the nature of his position seemingly invite the added hype.
Running backs coach Garret Chachere was quick to praise Carey's performance Saturday, but tempered it with a rush of reality. Carey is still learning the finer parts of the position, from pass-blocking to hole-hitting. And, Chachere said, there's a big difference between shining in a scrimmage against backups and third-stringers and being a factor in regular-season games.
"We have two guys, Keola Antolin and Daniel Jenkins - they're established BCS players. Ka'Deem is of that caliber," he said.
"The danger is taking a freshman and anointing him the next Archie Griffin, a two-time Heisman Trophy winner. He doesn't need that pressure. He's just trying to be the best Ka'Deem Carey he can be right now. That's all we want him to be. As you saw tonight, that's plenty good enough."
With 13 days remaining before the opener, Carey's role remains largely undefined. In fact, Stoops says he has "no idea" how Carey will fit in.
But after Saturday, there's reason to think the freshman can live up to the hype.
Even Foles was impressed.
"Tonight, I saw him grow up a little bit and start playing faster," the quarterback said. "He still has a ways to go, but he's going to be a talented player for this university. You saw it tonight. He's going to help us this year."
Meet-the-Team Night stats
• Rushing: Ka'Deem Carey 8-69, Taimi Tutogi 6-35, Daniel Jenkins 5-16, Elliott Taylor 1-2, Jared Baker 2-1. Team: 22-123.
• Passing: Nick Foles 10-16, 136 yards, TD, 2 INTs; Daxx Garman 8-11, 91 yards, INT; Matt Scott 4-7, 42 yards, Tom Savage 2-4, 6 yards, INT. Team: 24-38, 285 yards, TD, 4 INTs.
• Receiving: Jenkins 4-40, Sean Willet 3-51, Juron Criner 3-49 (TD), David Douglas 3-47, Gino Crump 2-24, Dan Buckner 2-20, David Roberts 2-20, Austin Hill 2-18, Terrence Miller 1-6, Tutogi 1-5, Richard Morrison 1-5. Team: 24-285.
• Tackles: Jared Tevis 9, Hank Hobson 7, Tra'Mayne Bondurant 6, Trevin Wade 4 (2 INTs), Robert Golden 3, Dan Pettinato 3, Chris Merrill 3, Rob Hankins 3, Cortez Johnson 3, Paul Vassallo 2, Jonathan McKnight 2, Dame Ndiaye 2, Sani Fuimaono 2, Tyler Ermisch 2 (INT), David Lopez 2 (INT), Mark Watley 1, Marquis Flowers 1, Derrick Rainey 1, Kyrel Parker 1, Derek Earls 1, Reggie Gilbert 1, Dominique Austin 1, Lamar De Rego 1, Christian Upshaw 1, Aiulua Fanene 1, Daniel Jenkins 1, C.J. Parish 1.
Coming next Sunday
The Star's 2011 college football preview section.
• Season opener: Sept. 3 vs. NAU