The first rule for all potential NFL draftees is to make sure your cell phone is next to you and fully charged.
Ka’Deem Carey had that covered.
The second rule is to make sure all NFL teams have your correct number.
The Chicago Bears tried to call Carey before selecting him in the fourth round of Saturday’s NFL draft. But Carey’s phone never rang: As his dream unfolded, Arizona’s all-time leading rusher played a game of dominoes on the floor of his grandma’s northwest side home. His mother, Tisha, frantically walked in from the backyard porch and yelled, “This could be it!”
A hush came over the nearly 30 people gathered; seconds later, Carey’s name appeared on the bottom of the television screen as the 117th overall pick.
The former UA and Canyon del Oro High School star quickly got to his feet, started crying and was mobbed by his friends and family.
“It’s all just a blur,” Carey said later. “I’m just walking around with a big smile. I don’t know what’s going on. I know I have to be in Chicago on Thursday and I get to start my dream job.
“I’m a professional football player. I’ve been waiting to say that for so long.”
Carey, a junior who declared early for the draft, isn’t sure why the call from the Bears didn’t come through.
“Either they had the wrong number or my phone didn’t have service,” Carey said smiling. “My mom said ‘typical Ka’Deem.’”
Tisha was tipped off by Carey’s agent, Kenny Zuckerman, who called her and told her he thought Carey was about to go off the board.
The Bears eventually found Carey. The running back talked to team CEO Ted Phillips, head coach Marc Trestman, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer and running backs coach Skip Peete, a former Sahuaro High School standout and brother of former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete.
Carey will fly to Chicago on Thursday in advance of the team’s rookie mini-camp, which runs Friday through Sunday.
He was the first Arizona player to be drafted since Trevin Wade was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the seventh round of the 2012 draft. It was a drought that spanned 379 picks over parts of three drafts.
The Bears traveled to Tucson earlier this month to put Carey through a private workout. The NFL team tested his football knowledge by showing him plays and then quizzing him on his assignments. They took him to Arizona Stadium and ran him through the plays, to see if he remembered what he was supposed to do.
“I was looking at them since Round 1 like, ‘When are you going to pick me?’” the 5-foot-10, 207-pound Carey said. “We had a good relationship from the get-go. I was having a money day when I worked out for them, and they kept smiling after every play. I knew there was a good chance they could take me.”
Carey said the other team that showed serious interest was Jacksonville. But the Jaguars didn’t take a running back until the seventh round.
He will be paid a bit more by being taken in the fourth round. Khaseem Greene, the 117th pick of the draft last year, signed a four-year contract with Chicago worth $2.59 million and received a signing bonus of $432,000.
Carey, who has never been to Chicago, will eventually move there with his girlfriend and 10-month old son, Kaison.
“This is why I chose to make this step because I’m ready to have my family in a whole different state and start my career and my passion of what I love to do,” Carey said. “I have to go get a Bear hat or something.”
Carey was the 11th running back taken in the draft and went four picks behind Boston College’s Andre Williams, who beat out Carey for the Doak Walker Award.
“That wait was hard,” Carey said with tears in his eyes. “I can’t recommend it to anyone.”
UA coach Rich Rodriguez watched a few picks Saturday before driving to his office at the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility. On his way, he received an alert on his phone that Carey had been picked by the Bears.
“Just about every guy you recruit and coach dreams of going to that next level, but not too many of them get to realize it,” he said. “So when you have a player drafted, it’s very special and rewarding.
“This is just the beginning for him,” the coach added. “He still has to make the team and prove he belongs, which I think he will do.”
Rodriguez said he met with a couple of Bears’ scouts last week. He said Chicago is a good fit for Carey because of Trestman, a head coach with an extensive offensive background.
“The biggest reason why it’s a good fit is because the Bears liked what they saw in him and believe in him,” Rodriguez said. “I’m very excited for Ka’Deem. He deserves this.”
Carey joins Lance Briggs, Eben Britton and Fendi Onobun as the fourth ex-Wildcat on the Chicago roster.
“We’re bringing Arizona over there,” Carey said. “They know we’re a bunch of hungry guys that want to work.”
Contact reporter Daniel Berk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk