After the Wildcats’ embarrassing 66-10 loss to UCLA nine games into the season, the home-grown running back from Tucson took it upon himself to right the ship. Fans took notice the next game when Ka’Deem Carey set a new Pac-12 rushing record by leading the University of Arizona to a 56-31 victory over Colorado.
And since then just about everyone else is taking notice of the sophomore sensation from Canyon del Oro high school – including the organizations handing out the prestigious end-of-season awards and honors.
The latest recognition is a big one. Carey was just named to the Walter Camp All-America Team – the first offensive player in school history to earn the honor. The nine other Wildcats who received the award were on the defensive side of the ball.
The 5’10” speedster hasn’t exactly been flying under the radar this season. He leads the nation in rushing yards per game with 146, and ranks second in total rushing yards after racking up 1,757 this season. And he still has a bowl game left to shoot for 2,000.
Impossible? Not really. He had 366 yards against Colorado – which broke a Pac-12 record that had stood for nearly 30 years. Another 243 would get him to the elite 2,000 plateau.
Improbable? Sure, but he ran for 204 against Utah in the second-to-last game of the regular season, even though defenses have been keying on him for most of the season.
His final opportunity will be against Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl. The Wolf Pack have lost four of their last five games and allow a little better than 32 points a game. Four games ago, Air Force rushed for 488 yards against the Nevada defense, eventually piling up a total 600 yards.
But the Wolf Pack hasn’t had to prepare yet for a back quite like Carey. He leads the nation in total yards from scrimmage (2,045) and is second in yards from scrimmage per game (170.4). His 20 rushing touchdowns put him seventh on the national list.
That kind of production this season has put him on numerous award lists. He was put on several All-America first teams that include CBSSports.com, Athlon Sports, Scout.com/FoxSportsNext.com, and Sporting News. But the addition of the Walter Camp honor, which was announced yesterday, is especially important because it gives him two of the three legs he needs to be considered a consensus All-America.
For that honor, he needs one of two others yet to be announced to go with the Sporting News and Walter Camp honors. He needs to be named to the All-America team for either the Football Writers’ Association of America, which releases its team on Dec. 14, or the Associated Press, which will announce on Dec. 11.
And to think, his coach didn’t even have to lift a finger to get the young man to suit up in the blue and red. Carey was just sitting there on campus, awaiting the arrival of Rich Rodriguez, who stepped into the head coaching role this season.
Carey has fit well into the Rodriguez hurry-up, spread offense that requires a running game to make the high-octane attack work.
It has turned into a win-win situation. Carey gets the awards and his coach adds a bowl trip to his resume.
(Photo: Arizona Athletics)