Carney makes a splash in Wake Forest running back debut

Published 1:57 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Tate Carney’s first action at running back in a Wake Forest uniform was everything the redshirt freshman from Davie County had hoped for and more.

In 2022, Carney got some playing time on special teams, but not enough to keep him from redshirting. He didn’t touch the ball in the 2023 opener against Elon. But as the Demon Deacons prepared to host Vanderbilt on Sept. 9, Carney rose from third to second on the depth chart because Justice Ellison was sidelined by concussion protocol.

Carney did an amazing job filling in. He carried 13 times for 117 yards, including his first touchdown since piling up a Davie-record 79 from 2018-21. His backfield debut also included an electrifying 74-yard scamper as Wake handled Vanderbilt 36-20 to push its record to 2-0.

No one was prouder than big brother Cade Carney, who played running back at Wake from 2016-19. Cade ran for nearly 2,500 yards and scored 21 TDs in his career in the black and gold.

“He is six years younger than me, but he was at every practice, every game and just was so into what I was doing when I played,” Cade told the Winston-Salem Journal. “And to now see him doing the same things means a lot to me and our family. It was so great to see how good he played.”

Tate’s big day earned him an invitation as one of two player guests on The Dave Clawson Show. The show is held each Wednesday from 7-8 p.m. at The Playground Golf and Sports Bar in Clemmons. The host is Davie County’s Stan Cotten, the longtime play-by-play man for Wake football/basketball. Here’s the conversation between Cotten and Carney that aired on the Wake radio network.

Cotten: “Tate, you’ve got all of Davie County here. What did it feel like to finally get your hands on the ball? You played a little bit last year on some special teams, but you came here to run the ball and you got your chance.”

Carney: “It was really amazing. I was definitely jumpy at first, but after the first couple of plays, I was able to settle in. It was awesome getting to play in front of the (home) crowd and be out there.”

Cotten: “Was Cade able to help you? He’s been through exactly what you’re going through now and he was obviously very successful. How did big brother help you out, or did he say you’re on your own?”

Carney: “He didn’t leave me on my own. He’s always been a really good mentor for me. He said: ‘Go out and enjoy it. Don’t take it for granted.’ It goes by fast. I was able to soak it in and I really enjoyed it. It was awesome.”

Cotten: “I don’t know that most redshirt freshmen, when they go in for the first time, expect to get over 100 yards. It helps when you go 74 on one play. Take me through that one. You bounced to the outside.”

Carney: “We had game-planned it and I was able to hit the right hole at the right time. I made a guy miss. Then they tried to push me out of bounds, but he kind of gave a lousy effort and I was able to extend the play. I was looking up at the jumbotron to see if he was catching up to me. He was. He was catching up.”

Cotten: “I was going to ask you about that. You pulled one of those NFL moves where you’re looking up at the big video board. I thought: ‘Is he actually looking to see if the guy is going to get him?’”

Carney: “Yeah, I saw him coming and I knew he was going to try to punch at the ball. I had to keep the ball high and tight so he wouldn’t punch it out.”

Cotten: “You’re listed third on the (depth) chart. But when a guy goes down, you get your chance. You knew you were going to run the ball Saturday, and heck, you got 117 yards and you carried it 13 times. How did that feel in your first real game doing what you want to do?”

Carney: “There was definitely a little anxiousness going in, but I saw a Bible verse about the Lord being your rock, and that has stuck with me. For the last couple of days before the game, that was in my head and it gave me peace. It gave me deep peace that I didn’t have to worry about what other people were going to think after the game or before the game. The Lord is the only one I’ve got to worry about judging me. That was really, really important for me. It’s always helpful having the home crowd out. My family is super supportive, they’re always there and I really appreciate them.”

Cotten: “I want to give you a chance to give your offensive line some love because those guys have done such a good job.”

Carney: “We can’t really do anything without their work up front. They did a good job moving people and getting people out of the way. They’ve been doing that and we’re excited to see how they can continue to get better and improve. It’s always fun whenever they’re moving people. It makes my job a lot easier.”