Arizona Football: Ka'Deem Carey's Case for the Heisman Trophy

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2013

Arizona Football: Ka'Deem Carey's Case for the Heisman Trophy

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    The 2013 Heisman Trophy face is as wide open and muddled as any in recent memory, with every perceived "front-runner" either having a bad game or finding himself immersed in a scandal. All the uncertainty makes it a crapshoot as to which players will be invited to New York City for the Dec. 14 award presentation, let alone who will take home the iconic trophy.

    With that being the landscape we're provided this year, we submit to you the case for a very worthy and deserving, if not likely, Heisman candidate: Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey.

He's Mr. Consistency

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    Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    Ka'Deem Carey is going to give you at least 100 yards every game.

    That's been the case for the last 15 games he's played in, each of which has seen the junior gain no fewer than 119 yards. He's averaged 177.5 yards per game during that span, which includes a school- and Pac-12 record 366 yards last year against Colorado.

    Whether Arizona is leading, trailing or in a tight-knit game, Carey has provided the same amount of production regardless of the situation. You can't get more consistent than that.

    It's why Carey was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year on Monday, and why he's the top running back in the country.

The School Record Book Could Be Named After Him

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    Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    Ka'Deem Carey has 4,070 career rushing yards, which is the Arizona career record. He broke Trung Canidate's mark during the Wildcats' win over Oregon two weeks ago, and with a likely bowl game still to be played this year, Carey figures to finish with more than 4,200 yards by the end of his junior year.

    But Carey is more than a one-trick pony: He currently holds or shares 22 Arizona single-game, single-season or career records, including career rushing touchdowns (45), rushing yards in a season (1,929) and the 366-yard game from last year that is the best in Pac-12 history.

He's a Local Boy Who's Made Good

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    Arizona's roster doesn't have that many players from Tucson on it. The fact that its best one is from nearby makes it that much more special.

    Ka'Deem Carey is a product of Canyon del Oro High School, in the Tucson suburb of Oro Valley, where he led the Dorados to a state championship his junior year.

    Carey was heavily recruited by both Arizona and Arizona State, and has made no secret that he was close to playing for the Sun Devils. But ultimately, Carey chose to stay close to home so he could represent the team he grew up watching, which just adds to his legend.

    This isn't a kid that came in from far away to become a superstar. He's the local boy who's reached unprecedented success for a Tucson-area football player.

His Off-the-field Issues Are Behind Him

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    While Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston awaits word whether he'll be charged in connection with an alleged sexual assault case, and other top college football stars like Johnny Manziel tweet out photos of hunting conquests they bagged during off weeks, Ka'Deem Carey has just played football of late.

    He's had is own share of off-the-field troubles, which came to a head between the end of last season and the start of this one, but those appear to be in the past.

    Carey was implicated in a December 2012 domestic violence case involving the mother of his son, Kaison, who was born in July. Not long after that, Carey made headlines, again in a bad way, after being kicked out of Arizona's basketball arena during a game after an altercation with an arena employee.

    Misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges stemming from the domestic violence incident were eventually dropped, but Carey was still suspended from Arizona's season opener this year for what coach Rich Rodriguez called a violation of team rules.

    But since returning from that suspension, it's been clear sailing for Carey, both on and off the field.

Without Him, Arizona Would Not Have Been Bowl-Eligible

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    Arizona finished this season with a 7-5 record, going 4-5 in the Pac-12 Conference. The Wildcats are likely going to a bowl game, though exactly which one is still up in the air since the league has nine bowl-eligible teams, but agreements with only seven games.

    It's scary to imagine where the Wildcats would be this season without Carey. Odds are, they wouldn't be heading toward a 13th game.

    A look at Carey's contributions this season pinpoints at least three games where, had he not played, Arizona would have lost. He ran for 232 yards and a touchdown in a 35-24 win over Utah, sealing the game with a 44-yard touchdown run with 90 seconds left.

    The following week Carey ran for a season-low 119 yards, but scored four times in a 44-20 win at Colorado, and in the 42-16 upset of Oregon two weeks ago, he had 206 yards and four TDs.

    Without Carey, Arizona would not be playing in a bowl game this season.