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Season over, Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey turns attention to NFL decision

Ka'Deem Carey gets a lift from center Steven Gurrola after his third-quarter TD in the bowl game. Photo by Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Ka’Deem Carey gets a lift from center Steven Gurrola after his third-quarter TD in the bowl game. Photo by Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Sideline reporters have to ask. It is usually futile. But you never know, right? That’s why they ask.

So it was that ESPN’s Niki Noto asked Arizona junior running back Ka’Deem Carey the question that wasn’t likely to get a headline-making response.

Have you made a decision about next year?

“I sure haven’t,” Carey said.

He made that statement on the field after Arizona’s 42-19 win over Boston College in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, La., and basically said the same thing when asked at the postgame press conference.

“I just started thinking about it now,” he told reporters. “I have to be ready. Regardless, I have to prepare myself. I’m thinking about it right now. After that game clock hit zero, I started thinking about it.”

Carey has until Jan. 15 to petition for early entry into the 2014 NFL Draft.

There’s not much more he can prove in college. He’s a two-time consensus All-American, the 2012 NCAA rushing champ, the 2013 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, holder of 23 school records … and on and on.

Would he like to make a serious run at the Heisman? Sure.

Might he want to chase Charles White’s Pac-12 record of 6,245 rushing yards? Carey is a doable 2,006 yards behind.

Perhaps he just fancies another year of college life and the potential to be a part of a special season.

All that has to be weighed against getting paid.

Does Carey want to put another 350-plus carries on his body without getting paid for it?

He has 743 career carries right now, plus 77 receptions. Does he want to be a guy who accumulates more than 1,000 college rushes? That’s a huge number. Looking at the top five running backs selected in recent drafts, the typical number is closer to 500 college carries.

And if Carey comes back, what can he do to improve his draft stock? He’s already, it says here, the most complete back in the country.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, in a recent media conference call, projected Carey as a second-day draft pick (second or third round) if he comes out, which wasn’t much help. There’s a lot of variable in there.

“I was just so impressed with what Carey did this year when you start to look at how he played in the big games,” McShay said.

“I thought he was sensational (in Arizona’s win over Oregon). Talk about carrying a football team. … He got stronger as the season progressed. I don’t think he has elite top-end speed, but he runs with great balance and instincts, and he’s just a tough competitive back.”

Carey, before Christmas, said he hadn’t heard back from an NFL advisory committee, which will report on his likely draft status.

“We’ll be communicating when we get the evaluation back from the NFL and where he is projected to be,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said.

“I’m going to try to talk to some general managers and some people in the league and see where they have him projected. And we’ll sit down and he’ll make a decision that’s best for him.”

With an increasing emphasis on the passing game, running backs aren’t as valued in the NFL as they once were. No running back was selected in the first round in 2013. No running back is likely to be selected in the first round in 2014.

There were six running backs selected from the 37th overall pick to the 96th last year. Here is what they signed for:

Player Pick Contract Guaranteed $
Giovani Bernard No. 37 Four years, $5.25 million $3.25 million
Le’Veon Bell No. 48 Four years, $4.1 million $2.28 million
Montee Ball No. 58 Four years, $3.5 million $1.6 million
Eddie Lacy No. 61 Four years, $3.4 million $1.04 million
Christine Michael No. 62 Four years, $3.37 million $1 million
Knile Davis No. 96 Four years, $2.77 million $506,000

You can see there’s a substantial difference between being a high second-round pick and dropping to the bottom of the third round. Stuff for Carey to consider.

With all he’s accomplished, no one would blame Carey if he left for the draft. We’ll see. His clock is ticking.

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