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Top 50 football players in Arizona Wildcats history: No. 39, Ka’Deem Carey

Photo illustration by azcentral.com.

Photo illustration by azcentral.com.

RELATED: RichRod: Carey doing ‘great’ but could face playing-time punishment

Position, years at Arizona: Running back, 2011-present

Honors, accomplishments at UA: Earned consensus All-American honors in 2012, the 11th UA player to earn such recognition and the first at an offensive position. … Led the nation in rushing with 148.4 yards per game.

Why he made our list: If he replicates his 2012 season, or comes reasonably close, Carey would vault into the top 10 on the list of best UA football players ever, perhaps the top five. As it is, his sophomore season stands as one of the finest in school history — 303 carries for a school-record 1,929 yards and a UA-best 23 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 36 passes for 303 yards and a score.

His 1,929 yards were the fifth-best rushing total in Pac-12 history.

With great vision, Carey excelled in Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense by following the blocks to the line of scrimmage and then making a quick cut into open space. As Rodriguez often said last season, Carey “ran angry” — determined, decisive and downhill. He had more rushes of 10-plus yards (58) and 20-plus yards (23) than any player in the country.

Carey, from Canyon del Oro High, vaulted into 2012 postseason honors with 914 rushing yards in the final four games, including a stunning 366-yard performance vs. Colorado, setting school and conference single-game records.

Carey has 2,354 rushing yards in two seasons, needing 1,471 yards to pass Trung Canidate’s school record of 3,824. Carey already is second on the school list for rushing touchdowns with 29, needing 16 to pass Art Luppino’s career mark at UA.

Life after college: Well, Carey has at least one more season at UA, set to enter his junior year after a turbulent off-season, although charges of misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct were dropped this summer. He seems to have the potential to be first-round material with another big season, although scouts will be eager to put a stopwatch to his 40-yard dash.

“From what I’ve seen, I think he’s the whole package,” draft analyst Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com/CBS Sports.com said this off-season. “I see speed; I see elusiveness; I see enough power out of him. Physically speaking, he looks like he has everything you’re looking for. But he has to demonstrate he has the work ethic, the maturity to be successful.”

In partnership with the Arizona Republic, we are counting down the top 50 football players in Arizona Wildcats history. Leave your top 10 at AG’s Wildcat Report on Facebook, and check out azcentral.com for the countdown of ASU’s Top 50 football players.

No. 50 — LaMonte Hunley

No. 49 — Hubie Oliver

No. 48 — Rob Gronkowski

No. 47 — Jim Donarski

No. 46 — Ontiwaun Carter

No. 45 — Steve McLaughlin

No. 44 — John Fina

No. 43 — Glenn Parker

No. 42 — Bobby Lee Thompson

No. 41 — Marcus Bell

No. 40 — Fred W. Enke

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