When it came to playing football at the collegiate level, the decision was an easy one for Jared Tevis, Ka’Deem Carey, and Jake Fischer.
Carey and Tevis, graduates of Canyon Del Oro High School, and Fischer, from Ironwood Ridge, were quick to throw on a Wildcats’ jersey despite offers from other out of state schools.
For these young and talented athletes, playing football at the University of Arizona meant an opportunity to further represent the community in which they were raised, to play on the very team they rooted for growing up, to take the field in front of their families and friends, and to make a big impact on a team which has, in recent years, been through the ups and downs of the rebuilding process.
“It’s great being able to play in my hometown, and to represent Oro Valley,” said Fischer, who is expected to have big defensive presence at linebacker after missing the 2011 season with a knee injury. “All of us guys from Tucson have a certain bond, and we play for each other as well.”
For Carey, who at running back had a team-best six touchdown runs last year as a true freshman, the opportunity to play at Arizona was one that allowed him to be part of a Tucson tradition.
“In a town like this that loves seeing their football team play, staying here is a blessing,” he said. “I had offers from a couple PAC-12 teams like Colorado and Utah, but I committed to coming here my junior year of high school. This is where I wanted to be.”
Tevis, who walked on his freshman year as a special teams starter, finished last year with 12 tackles, among the best on special teams, and this year is a contender for role at starting safety.
“It means a lot to play here,” he said. “I have my family and hometown friends around, and they’re really proud of me, and it’s a great feeling to compete for them and make my presence felt.”
Tevis, alongside Carey, was part of a 14-0 season at CDO his senior year. Ironwood Ridge has also seen several successful seasons in recent years.
“We all had great coaching staffs that wanted to put us to that next level,” said Carey. “Myself, Tevis, Fischer, we all had the same mentality to go get it, to help our city be on top.”
Fortunately for the Wildcats team, new Head Coach Rich Rodriguez shares the same vision, and the former Northwest-area players said they have already noticed positive differences from last year.
“The team is much more disciplined as a whole, and we’re making great strides everyday,” said Tevis. “Overall, we are a much tougher team this year, and we are getting that consistency we lacked last year to compete at the greatest level.”
Fischer, who said he is now in the best shape of his life, expects the team to be as conditioned as any they compete against this season.
“The games we were winded last year, it won’t be like that this year,” he said. “We’re in much better shape, whereas against Oregon and even ASU last year, they sped up the tempo, we will come out and speed up the tempo this year and throw the first punch.”
The Wildcats will look to start the season off right in their opener against Toledo on Sept. 1 at home.
UA Wildcats to host Toledo
Saturday, Sept. 1, at 7:30 p.m.