Freshman Cade Carney has been impressing coaches, teammates and fans since he first began playing football as a young boy. The 5-11, 215-pound running back earned Player of the Year honors as a freshman in North Carolina’s Central Piedmont 4-A conference- a collection of schools that are perennially laden with Division I talent. He played three years at Davie High School before transferring to the Davidson Day program for his senior season. There, he helped lead his team to an undefeated record and a private schools state championship.
No matter where his career has taken him, however, one thing has remained the same. Carney has long had the reputation of a blue-collar worker whose affinity for the weight room has even his new teammates shaking their heads. In talking with senior linebacker Marquel Lee about the new weight room on campus, it didn’t take long for him to mention Carney.
“He’s definitely a freak,” Lee said. “He amazes me every day with his work ethic and his strength, too. He’s not only strong but he works hard at it. I feel like he’s done a great job over the past spring as an incoming freshman and being an early enrollee, setting a mark and continuing to excel and continuing to get better.”
Lee then paused and shook his head. “He amazed me just yesterday. He out-cleaned me yesterday. I think he stopped at 360 (pounds).”
Carney was a load to handle during spring practice, immediately putting himself into the mix for playing time at the tailback position. While competing against Carneys’ tough, straight ahead style could make for a long practice, Lee says practicing against him and the other talented backs should only make the defense better.
“It’s great to have that competition and that competitiveness in practice, you know? Getting to play against Cade Carney and Rocky Reid and those type of guys, on game day it’s like nothing. They’re just like every other athlete we play.”
While trying to bring down Carney is not a welcome thought for defenses, there is one position group that loves the thought of having the true freshman running for the Demon Deacons. “Cade’s an incredible athlete,” senior offensive lineman Ty Hayworth said. “From the day he got here, in the weight room, he’s one of the strongest running backs I’ve seen. He’s an incredible athlete, like we saw in spring ball. He can hit some holes and run over some guys. He’s got the agility, he’s got the speed, he’s got the strength to do it all. I really am excited to see what Cade Carney can do for the Demon Deacons this year and in the future.”
Accolades aside, the true test of all the work by Carney and the other Deacon backs will be fall camp.
Unlike head coach Dave Clawson’s first season, Wake Forest has enough depth at tailback to make for an interesting competition in the run-up to the first game. The question is, can any of them do enough to stand out and be the go-to running back that the Deacons have been lacking for the past few seasons?