The All-American honors are pouring in nearly daily for Arizona Wildcats running back Ka’Deem Carey, who breaks into a huge grin when asked who keeps him humble.
“I surround myself with great people,” he said.
“My mom. My friends. My girlfriend. They all just keep me humble and say I’m not good. I’m just trying to prove them wrong.”
Not good? That’s kind of harsh.
Carey laughs and smiles again.
“I just gotta take it, though,” he said. “I’ve grown up with it.”
It figures that the guy who leads the nation in rushing yards knows how to stay grounded. His answer to a lot of things about how he is doing what he’s doing is “I’m just blessed.”
The sophomore heads into the New Mexico Bowl with a school single-season record 1,757 yards, tops in the country with 146.4 yards per game. His closest competitor will be on the other sideline in Albuquerque on Dec. 15 — Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson, who trails Carey by 54 yards.
Everyone will be counting the yards as Carey and Jefferson take turns carving up porous defenses. Arizona is 87th nationally against run (189.75 yards allowed per game), while Nevada is 110th (213.17).
The national rushing title — heck, even a 2,000-yard season — is within reach as both teams figure to feed their star backs.
“I think the coaches are ready for this,” Carey said of the head-to-head matchup with Jefferson. “Me and Coach had a conversation. We are going to go after it.”
Carey picked up two major All-America honors Thursday — from The Sporting News and the Walter Camp Football Foundation, which are two of the five officially recognized All-America teams. Carey is also a first-team All-American as picked by CBSSports.com, Athlon and FoxSportsNext.com.
Two other major All-America teams will be released next week — the AP (Tuesday) and the Football Writers Association of America (Friday).
“It’s pretty weird. I mean, it’s a little surreal,” said Arizona sophomore Jared Tevis, a teammate of Carey’s at Canyon del Oro High School. “I always knew he was capable of doing things like this, but it’s nice for him get the recognition and hit his potential.”
Carey has blossomed in the read-option offense of coach Rich Rodriguez, which creates great spacing for the running game. Carey has used outstanding vision to cut through traffic at the line of scrimmage on inside zone plays, and then he breaks tackles and moves the pile with his great lower-body strength.
“I think all the running that we do puts our legs where they need to be,” Carey said.
“I feel that we do the most running in the country, so when it comes down to people getting tired and grabbing on my legs, I have the extra burst.”
Carey isn’t quite putting up video-game numbers — other than his Pac-12 record 366 yards vs. Colorado — but that’s where he first learned about Rodriguez’s offense. He said he watched a lot of Rodriguez’s games at West Virginia, and then would turn around and be Pat White and Steve Slaton while playing NCAA Football.
“That’s how I knew the offense the best … playing the game. I promise you. It’s crazy. I would just always win,” he said.
Uh, about Carey being humble … perhaps not in this case.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Tevis said about Carey winning all the time at NCAA Football. “He is kind of trash at video games.”
In real life, he’s a treasure.
The All-America honors mean his name can go on the Ring of Fame at Arizona Stadium. He is the only first-team All-American running back in school history. He’s the 10th UA player — and the first on offense — to be a Walter Camp All-American.
With one more major All-America honor, he’ll be the 11th player in school history to be a consensus All-American.
“I had a little talk with him to let him know to not let the hype get to his head,” Tevis said. “He’s a good kid. He’s going to keep working and thing will continue to go his way.”
* * *
Arizona’s consensus All-Americans
|1982||Ricky Hunley, LB|
|1983||*Ricky Hunley, LB|
|1987||Chuck Cecil, DB|
|1990||*Darryll Lewis, DB|
|1992||Rob Waldrop, DL|
|1993||*Rob Waldrop, DL|
|1994||Steve McLaughlin, PK|
|1994||Tedy Bruschi, DL|
|1994||Tony Bouie, DB|
|1995||*Tedy Bruschi, DL|
|1998||*Chris McAlister, DB|
|1999||Dennis Northcutt, AP|
|2007||Antoine Cason, DB|