Arizona Wildcats running back Ka’Deem Carey is a true freshman. He’s 18. If he doesn’t know the school history of the jersey number he’s wearing, well, that’s mostly understandable.
Carey is wearing No. 25, his number from his days at Canyon del Oro High School … and those digits have a history of greatness at Arizona, especially when it comes to local running backs.
Remember Vance Johnson?
That’s Carey’s uncle, but he said didn’t know Johnson wore No. 25. Johnson, a Cholla High graduate, was a running back with the Wildcats before starring as a receiver as part of the Denver Broncos’ “Three Amigos” receiving corps.
Another No. 25 running back at Arizona: Pueblo High grad David Eldridge, part of the UA’s “Back Attack” of the late 1980s. He ran for 205 yards against UCLA in 1989 and earned second-team all-conference honors that season.
Two Arizona All-Americans have donned No. 25: defensive back Jackie Wallace (1972) and punter Josh Miller (1992). That is the year Carey was born.
No. 25 is, arguably, the best number in Arizona history.
For Carey, it’s simply the number he was given at some point along the way.
“I made a name for it back in high school,” he said of his No. 25, which he wore as he nearly broke the state high school rushing record. “I just wanted to stick with it. It was available when I came into college; I just decided to take it.”
Nobody on Arizona’s offense wore No. 25 last season. Redshirt freshman safety Josh Robbins, Carey’s former teammate at CDO, sports No. 25 for the defense.
Four years ago, for the print edition of the Tucson Citizen, I researched the best Arizona players at each jersey number — 1 through 99. That story is still available on-line. Someday, I’ll have to update that list — slide in Willie Tuitama at No. 7, for example.
Future updates could come from quarterback Nick Foles and receiver Juron Criner, who will be making their final pitches this season.
On the 1 to 99 list, Foles will be trying to unseat reigning No. 8 Dennis Northcutt. If all goes well this season for Foles, he’ll be one of the most prolific quarterbacks — if not the most — in school history. By nature of his position, that would trump Northcutt, one of the most productive receivers in UA lore.
Criner, with some second-team All-American honors last season, probably already has surpassed receiver/returner Derek Hill as the best UA player to wear No. 82.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth installment of our 24 Hours of Arizona Football Blogging — one post at the top of every hour. Keep checking back at TucsonCitizen.com through Friday at 11 a.m. or follow the entire series with the “24 hours of blogging” tag.