TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey said it himself: “Lights, camera, action.”
The latter always seems to be a given with Carey, the Wildcats’ All-America running back and soon-to-be all-time rushing leader.
Carey is just 117 yards shy of Trung Canidate’s 3,824 yards set from 1996-99.
Nearly 15 years later, the record is set to be broken — and Carey will only need three years to do so.
“That would mean a lot,” said Carey of possibly passing Canidate vs. Oregon on Saturday in Arizona Stadium. “This game means a lot, playing Oregon at home with the chance to break a record. Let’s go. I’m excited.”
Seemingly everyone is when it comes to the record. Even Canidate, who said he’ll likely be at the game.
“What he’s done is an amazing accomplishment,” Canidate said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “I’ve had the record for a while. He’s an explosive big runner. He runs real aggressive.”
There is one similarity between the two, Canidate said, the manner in which they “they attack the holes.”
Their breakaway speed is close, he said, “but I think I have a little bit more. But his physicality is much better than mine.”
Going into the season it was presumed that if Carey stayed healthy, the record would fall at some point. Carey ran for 1,929 yards as a sophomore. In nine games this season (he was suspended for the opener), he has 1,353 — rushing for at least 119 yards in every game.
Canidate said he has no problem with the record falling, because so much has happened in the last 15 years. “I have a few records there, so he can break all but one,” he said, laughing.
Carey was highly recruited out of Canyon del Oro High School on Tucson’s northwest side, but few could have seen becoming the school record holder. Carey, however, always envisioned the possibility, even after rushing for just 425 yards his freshman year under former coach Mike Stoops.
“I saw it,” Carey said. “They didn’t see it. But I saw it. I know what I was capable of doing. Like I say, patience is a virtue sometimes.”
Oregon coach Mark Helfrich thinks plenty of Carey, although he doesn’t want the record to happen against his team this week.
“Ka’Deem Carey is phenomenal, just a great all-purpose back,” he said. “He’s quick and has great hands. He’s versatile. We’ve got our hands full.”
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said Carey continues to improve, even if the numbers don’t necessarily show it.
“Compared to last year at this time, I think he’s a better football player,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He hasn’t had as big as holes or creases to run (through) at times. And he still runs with great passion. And he plays hard without the ball too, blocking-wise. I think he’s getting better. … And his best football is still out in front of him. He’s going to get better and better.”
Whether that’s with Arizona next year or in the National Football League will be determined later. Carey said this week he hasn’t put much thought toward next year and turning pro. If he opts to go pro, Saturday will be his final game in front of the hometown fans.
While no discussions have taken place yet, Rodriguez said when the time comes to talk about it, he’ll help provide the right information to make the best decision. If Carey is projected as a first-round pick, it would be foolish to think he’ll return.
“If you’re paid well, go out and make a living,” Rodriguez said.
For now, he’ll continue to do what he’s been doing, which is carry the load for an Arizona offense that has been short of other weapons.
“I don’t think you realize how special he is until you don’t have him … and I have always had him,” Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker said. “I have been fortunate to have him. He’s going to be a legend in Tucson, and he already is. He’s going to do great things in the NFL. He’s a special back.”
In describing what makes him special, Denker said Carey knows football, “and that’s uncoachable, because you either understand it or you don’t.” And, he’s a “beast, because he’s a physical speciman.”
Offensive lineman Mickey Baucus agreed, saying that when he has time to reflect on his time at Arizona, he’ll be honored to have blocked for Carey.
“It’s great having a back like Ka’Deem who can do it all,” Baucus said. “He can run it inside the tackles and outside of the backfield. He makes my life a whole lot easier. I’m sure he’s got great things coming to him the future. It’s great blocking for him.”
Baucus said Carey’s promising future was apparent early on.
“The second he stepped on campus,” he said. “Physically he’s just a freak. And mentally, that’s catching up with his physical ability to make him a complete football player.”
Stoops, now defensive coordinator at Oklahoma, hasn’t been able to
follow Carey’s progress closely, but he’s marveled at what he’s seen.
“He’s had a great career. I don’t know what is longterm goals are, but he’s been awfully productive in Rich’s system.
could see the explosive power in him at an early age. He’s a physically
gifted runner. His maturation was just starting to come when I left. He
was just starting to show signs that he could be a productive player.
The last year there you could see that this kid could be something