Ka'Deem Carey sheds an NAU tackler on the way to added yardage. The freshman from Canyon del Oro High School had a team-leading 59 rushing yards and caught a pass for 5 yards Saturday night.


The Arizona Wildcats were leading Northern Arizona by 24 points late Saturday when tailback Ka'Deem Carey was called for a holding penalty on a play in which he ran the ball.

Maybe Carey's sizable Southern Arizona fan club is right: He can do everything.

The Canyon del Oro High School product made a big splash in Saturday's 41-10 win at Arizona Stadium, rushing nine times for a team-high 59 yards and catching one pass for 5 yards. He was also the recipient of one gaffe - an official called a penalty on Carey instead of a guilty teammate.

While Carey's numbers were a small sample size taken from the fourth quarter of a romp against a Division I-AA school, consider his place in recent UA history.

Carey is believed to be the first true freshman in 20 years, if not longer, to lead the Wildcats in rushing in his first-ever game. Kevin Schmidtke rushed for more yards - 92, on 17 carries - in the Wildcats' 1994 opener against Georgia Tech, but finished second behind teammate Ontiwaun Carter's 151-yard performance.

Carey, 18, said he wasn't nervous heading into his first college game.

"I was just more anxious to get out there and give it all I got," he said. "I was waiting for Coach to call my name, and that's what he did late in the game."

The results were "great, just great," Carey said.

The 5-foot-10-inch, 190-pound freshman entered to cheers with the UA up 34-10 and 14:02 left.

Nick Foles connected with David Roberts for a 13-yard gain, then handed the ball to Carey four times in a row - his third run was nullified because of the holding penalty - and threw it to him once.

After a two-play break, Carey rushed 11 yards to the NAU 11, and 3 yards to move Arizona to the 8.

One play later, Foles found Gino Crump for a touchdown, and the UA's lead grew to 31 points.

Carey wasn't done. He rushed on each of the Wildcats' final four plays of the game, gaining 28 yards and finishing ahead of Keola Antolin. The UA starter gained 41 yards on six carries and caught five passes for 51 yards as part of an offensive bonanza.

The UA gained 487 yards, nearly twice as many as visiting NAU (259). The Wildcats averaged 7.9 yards per play.

"I thought both backs were really special handling the football and catching the ball," coach Mike Stoops said. "Ka'Deem … it wasn't a comfortable feeling yet to give him the touches in a game. I'm glad we gave him nine carries there."

The Wildcats will have a tougher challenge on Thursday, when they head to Stillwater, Okla., for a game against Oklahoma State.

Carey's role will likely remain undefined until coaches see what he can do against tougher competition.

Even Carey isn't sure what the future holds, though he admitted Saturday was a good start.

"I'll just do whatever the coaches tell me to do," he said, "and I will always be ready."

Up next

• Who: Arizona at Oklahoma State

• When: 5 p.m. Thursday


• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM