Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
Objectively speaking, Ka'Deem Carey has been one of the very best running backs in all of college football.
I am a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and as such, vote for the awards the organization doles out at the end of each season. You can peruse my entire 1st Team All-America ballot, as well as my Outland Trophy and Coach of the Year nominations here. One name should jump out to Desert Swarm readers.
In my time as a member, I never nominated an Arizona Wildcat for any award or All-America distinction. Frankly, none deserved it. I had no intention of doing so this year, either. Austin Hill has been impressive as the Wildcats' No. 1 receiver, and earlier this season I called for him to receive All-America consideration. And that's exactly what I gave him -- consideration.
However, the All-America nominations call for just two at the position. I chose Marqise Lee and DeAndre Hopkins. There are others who could have gone ahead of Hill, too, like Markus Wheaton, Terrance Williams and Stedman Bailey.
But as I looked at the two vacancies alongside the letters RB, names cycled through my head. Kenjon Barner was a lock. First I thought of North Carolina sophomore Giovani Bernard. Then I pondered Nevada junior Stefphon Jefferson. Another two Pac-12 backs came to mind: UCLA senior Johnathan Franklin, who Arizona fans know well; and Stanford senior Stepfan Taylor (ditto).
But the numbers would repeatedly bring me back to Carey. Only Jefferson averages more yards per game than Carey, whose career day against Colorado elevated him to No. 2 in all college football at 138 per.
Take away the Colorado game though, and Carey still ranks among the nation's elite. Before erupting for a Pac-12 record 366 yards last week, he eclipsed the century mark six times. In two of his games below 100 yards rushing, Carey sat most of the second half.
He has a touchdown in nine of 10 games -- even the debacle at UCLA, where Carey's third quarter cross of the goal line gave the Wildcats their sole touchdown of the game.
Such consistency reaching the end zone has resulted in 18 touchdowns, ranking him third in all of college football. His 18 outpaces Bernard by seven, Taylor by nine and Franklin by 10.
Of those ahead of him, Carey averages more yards per carry than Jefferson (6.2 to 4.9) and has more total yards than Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon (1381 to 1052).
Carey's also been a vital cog in the surprisingly potent Arizona passing offense. His 30 receptions exceed Franklin's 24, Barner's 18, Taylor's 28 and Jefferson's 20. Carey has one catch for a touchdown, which came in the win over Oklahoma State. The Wildcats' defeat of OSU keyed a season surpassing the expectations many had for UA in Rich Rodriguez's first campaign as head coach, and Carey scored four touchdowns that night.
Such a performance set a tone for the year. Arizona is a high-powered offensive team that scores points in bunches, and quarterback Matt Scott has garnered more attention than Carey. But take Carey from the backfield, and the Wildcats become a much different team. His impact is profound, and compounds what the numbers tell me -- that objectively speaking, Carey is All-America caliber.