From the dog house to the penthouse. Ka’Deem Carey has made that ignoble journey this season, likely his last as a college football player, and finished the trip with his dazzling-white smile still intact.
Carey, the junior sensation from Tucson’s Canyon del Oro High School who led the nation last year in rushing, was just named the 2013 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, the first University of Arizona player to earn that honor. But three months ago he was watching the season opener against Northern Arizona from the sidelines after being benched for team violations during the off-season.
He carried the ball 32 times and rambled for 157 yards in Arizona’s losing effort against Arizona State on Saturday, and two days later was named the conference POY. It was his 15th consecutive game with 100 or more yards rushing.
After this season, the lure to jump into the NFL draft may be too great to resist. When the season began, the university’s PR machine did everything it could to drum up support for his consideration in the Heisman balloting. But the Cats finished 7-5 this season after an embarrassing 58-21 loss to its rival in Tempe and now his final game will likely be in a semi-obscure bowl somewhere.
However, no one can say he didn’t do what he could to lift his team to greater heights this season. He is averaging 156 yards per game and is currently the nation’s No. 2 rusher. He also leads all active FBS players with 50 career touchdowns and is tied for the most 100-yard career rushing games among active players with 21.
He is Arizona’s all-time career rushing leader with 4,070 yards and his 50 career TDs is also a school record. All together, he owns or shares 21 single-game, season, and career records at the school where he has logged just three seasons.
And he’s grown a lot in those few years, both on and off the field. His benching in that first game was meant to send a message to the young man after a misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charge that stemmed from an altercation with his ex-girlfriend was filed against him last December, followed by an incident at a UofA basketball game in which he was ejected from the gym.
But he appears to have made the right adjustments in his life. “I’ve matured a lot,” Carey admitted in a recent article on the school’s website. “I’ve really grown as a young man, on and off the field. From reading blitz pick-ups to going to school on time and doing the right things. All of the above.” (Ahh, music to the ears of every NFL scout).
Carey is also a Doak Walker Award finalist, recognizing the top college running back, and a candidate for the coveted Heisman Trophy.
Five other Wildcats were also honored with annual awards from the conference. Freshman receiver Nate Phillips, who had 42 receptions this season for 503 yards and seven touchdowns, was named All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention. And on defense, honorable-mention honors also went to senior lineman Tevin Hood; junior safety Jared Tevis; freshman linebacker Scooby Wright; and senior linebacker Marquis Flowers, who leads the team with 86 tackles.
(Photo: Arizona Athletics)