TUCSON, Ariz. — He ran hungry all season, and it showed for Arizona junior running back Ka’Deem Carey.
On Monday afternoon, the Pac-12 Conference announced he was its Offensive Player of the Year.
It’s the first time a UA player has been named the conference’s top player in the Pac-10 or Pac-12 — seven Wildcats have been named Defensive Player of the Year.
“What he’s been doing is phenomenal,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said after Saturday’s game with Arizona State in Tempe. “He had a tremendous year, and he’s only a junior. I’d love to have him come back. He has at least one game (left). I hope he has another whole year.”
Carey or Rodriguez were not made available on Monday.
Whether Carey returns for another season will be determined in the next few weeks. Speculation that Carey is leaving for the NFL has long been presumed, although he has laughed off questions when reporters ask about his future beyond this season, saying he hasn’t thought about it.
After leading the nation in rushing last season, Carey’s stats have tailed off slightly this year — in part because Arizona’s erratic passing game allowed defenses to load up against the run. Even so, Carey ranks as the nation’s second best rusher with 156.0 yards per game. He has rushed for 100-plus yards in 15 consecutive games and 19 of 20.
Carey earned consensus All-America honors last season, and this year he’s one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award given to the nation’s top running back.
He has a total of 1,716 rushing yards, down from 1,929 a year ago, but he missed the first game and part of the second after being suspended because of a pair of off-the-field incidents after last season.
There have been no problems this year unless you were an opponent. He owns or shares 21 single-game, season or career school records. He is Arizona’s all-time leading rushing leader with 4,070 and also holds the school record with 50 career touchdowns — most of any active FBC player.
Carey was Arizona’s only player named to the All-Pac-12 team. Five Wildcats earned honorable mention: Freshman wide receiver Nate Phillips, senior linebacker Marquis Flowers, senior defensive lineman Tevin Hood, junior safety Jared Tevis and freshman linebacker Scooby Wright.