Ka'Deem Carey brought a lot to an Arizona Wildcats team in his three years that had not seen anything like him since Trung Canidate, who played at Arizona from 1996-99 and was a first-round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams.
While it does not seem likely in today's NFL that Carey will go in the first round, it should not be seen as a reason to question his decision to forego his senior year.
But I'm not going to worry about what lies ahead for Ka'Deem. Let's take a second to remember what he did in a Wildcat uniform.
The Tucson-native came to U of A from Canyon Del Oro HS in Oro Valley after the Dorados had a 27-game winning streak snapped by Saguaro (Scottsdale) in the 2010 State Championship Game. The 2009 Championship Game was the one to remember for Ka'Deem though, who ran for 268 yards and five touchdowns in Arizona Stadium as CDO finished off an undefeated season. The Dorados took down Sabino in that game by a score of 40-0 to win their first state title since 1977. Carey also threw for a touchdown that day.
As a true freshman in 2011, Ka'Deem did not start a single game, but he did lead the team with six rushing touchdowns, and was the main kick returner, leading the team with 26 returns for 549 return yards. 1,177 all-purpose yards as a true freshman was pretty good, but it would only get better from there.
When RichRod came to Tucson in 2012, he realized that he would start his tenure as the Wildcats' head coach with a stud at running back. And all of the sudden the transition for Rodriguez, the coaching staff, and the school would become much easier than expected.
Ka'Deem led the nation in rushing yards in 2012 with 1,929, which was also a new school record for rushing yards in a single season. Canidate had the previous record at 1,602, which Carey broke during the first quarter of the game against Arizona St.
Some other records set in 2012 included a school-record 23 rushing TDs, and he tied Art Luppino's record of 24 total individual TDs, which was set in 1954.
Carey was also named a consensus All-American, and was first team Pac-12 in 2012, but that was just the beginning of those awards during his college career.
2012 got off to a bang when he picked up his first 100-yard rushing game of his collegiate career against Toledo, which featured a 73-yard TD run early in the third quarter to put Arizona up 17-14. Carey finished the day with that TD score and 147 rushing yards on 20 carries.
The next week was Carey's coming out party as the Wildcats hosted No. 18 Oklahoma State. The Cowboys had absolutely crushed the Wildcats in the previous two years, beating them by a combined score of 73-24.
But Ka'Deem was having none of that.
It looked like it was going to be a rough night for Arizona when OSU got out to an early 14-0 lead, but Matt Scott and Carey answered in a big way, and led the Wildcats to a 59-38 upset victory in RichRod's second game.
Carey scored four times on the night (3 rushing, 1 receiving), and had 154 total yards on 30 touches. If we can trace Ka'Deem's success and really the success of the program the last two years back to a particular moment, it would have to be that game and the Carey TDs on each side of halftime. That was when the players and coaches believed that this was going to work, and that Carey was going to be a special running back.
Ka'Deem had a rushing TD in every single game of the 2012 season except for the game at Oregon which Arizona was shutout 49-0. But the one game that everyone will remember for a very long time was the outing against the Colorado Buffaloes.
Matt Scott did not play due to concussions suffered against USC and UCLA, so the offense was going to ride or die with Carey that day, and it certainly did not die.
Ka'Deem set a Pac-12 record for single-game rushing yards with 366, and set a new school-record with five rushing touchdowns. It was an unbelievable performance. Carey averaged 14.6 yards per carry that day.
An average of 14.6 yards per carry on 25 carries. Like, what?
That's the game that NFL scouts took notice, and Carey started being projected to come out of college early. And it put him in contention for the Doak Walker Award, as well as getting him on all the All-American ballots. And how could it not really? That's a game for the ages, and he did it with the Colorado defense knowing that all it had to do was stop him since it was B.J. Denker's first career start at Arizona.
I think that's what makes that game even more remarkable. There was no Matt Scott to distract CU. It was all Carey, and a little Denker sprinkled in.
That Colorado game also started the 100-yard game streak that Carey finished his career with. Never again after the 366 yard game did Carey rush for less than 119 yards in a game. That's 16 consecutive 100-yard rushing days to finish his college career. The 22 100-yard games that he had while at Arizona were tied for the most among active players in the FBS.
The 2012 offseason was not kind to Carey though, as he ran into several off-the-field incidents right after the New Mexico Bowl, including being charged in a domestic violence case, but later had those charges dropped.
The offseason issues came into play at the beginning of the 2013 season. Carey was not allowed to talk to the media for most of fall camp, and then was suspended for Arizona's season-opener against Northern Arizona due to "team policy".
Daniel Jenkins ended up rushing for 139 yards against the Lumberjacks, while B.J. Denker added 71 of his own. Jenkins set a school-record which Ka'Deem could not attain in that game as he peeled of a 91-yard TD run, the longest ever by a Wildcat.
Carey's suspension bled into the second game of the year against UNLV, where Daniel Jenkins got the start against the Rebels. But when the second quarter came along, so did Ka'Deem Carey, and so did the fireworks from the 2012 season.
Carey's first rush of the year was a 58-yard TD 32 seconds into the second quarter.
And it would just get better from there.
Ka'Deem scored touchdowns in all but two games in 2013, and ran for at least 119 yards in every game he played (another school record).
All the career school records came crashing down during the Oregon game, an upset that even Wildcat fans did not think would happen.
It was a rainy day in Tucson, a day in which El Tour de Tucson was marred by cyclists wiping out left and right, and a mostly empty Arizona Stadium as the Ducks and Cats kicked off at 1:30 in the afternoon.
But as it became apparent that Arizona was going to do something special, the sun started peaking out from behind the clouds, and the fans showed up in droves. It is the only sporting event I've been to where there were more fans in the stands for the second half than the first half.
With Trung Canidate on the sideline, along with other former Wildcats, Ka'Deem Carey went into the record books early in the third quarter on a routine 20-yard scamper.
That 20-yard scamper gave Carey the school-record for career rushing yards at Arizona.
During the next media timeout, a message appeared on the big screen at the stadium congratulating Ka'Deem on his record. They also showed Canidate there applauding Carey on the sideline. A special moment that will probably never be duplicated at Arizona.
As the game wore on and Arizona kept throttling the No. 5 team in the country, Carey kept on breaking more Arizona records. First the rushing TDs record went down, followed by the total touchdowns mark.
Ka'Deem talked about breaking all those records after the game, as well as what it was like to be one of the greatest athletes in Tucson history, not just U of A history.
"It means a lot to this program, to me, my family. Being born here, raised here, I feel like I put it on for the city. We have magic out here."
That wasn't the end of the school records though, as the all-purpose yards mark came down against ASU.
Carey was honored after the regular season with another consensus All-American selection (only Sporting News kept him from being unanimous), Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, and was a Doak Walker Award Finalist, but lost out to Boston College's Andre Williams.
So Carey would get one last chance to prove himself as Arizona took on BC in the Indepence Bowl.
Let's just say Carey won that match up with ease.
Carey went for 169 yards in Arizona's 42-19 win over the Eagles, while Williams finished with just 75 yards on one fewer carry.
Andre Williams' longest rush in that game was 7 yards. Carey averaged 6.3 yards per carry.
It was the perfect ending to an under-appreciated collegiate career for Carey, and now he will be able to prove himself again when he gets taken early on in the NFL Draft.
Thank you Ka'Deem for all that you did at Arizona, and all you did to steer this program in the right direction at a time when new coaches were coming in and things were uncertain in Tucson. You really have made the city proud, and it only gets better from here.
Here's a list of some of the records Ka'Deem Carey set at Arizona:
Rushing yards: 4,239
Rushing touchdowns: 48
Total touchdowns: 52
All-purpose yards: 5,483
100-yard rushing games: 22 (16 consecutive)
Rush attempts per game: 20.6
Rushing yards per game: 117.8
Rush attempts: 349 (2013)
Rushing yards: 1,929 (2012)
Rushing touchdowns: 23 (2012)
Average yards per rush: 6.37 (2012)
Total touchdowns: 24 (2012)
All-purpose plays: 375 (2013)
Rushing yards: 366 (2012 vs. Colorado)
Yards per rush (min. 20 att.): 14.6 (2012 vs. Colorado)
Rushing touchdowns: 5 (2012 vs. Colorado)
All-purpose plays: 49 (2013 vs. Oregon)
Rush attempts: 48 (2013 vs. Oregon)
All-purpose yards: 400 (2012 vs. Colorado)
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