Hansen's Sunday Notebook: Carey likely to enter draft

January 05, 2014 12:00 am

Star sports columnist Greg Hansen discusses Ka'Deem Carey's imminent decision and other hot sports topics in Tucson.

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  • Sometime this week, Ka’Deem Carey will lift the “protected/blocked’’ mechanism from his twitter feed and announce he will enter the NFL draft. It’s as inevitable as a January snowplow in Minnesota.

    He will leave Arizona because he has carried the ball 744 times in three seasons, which is one more carry than former Oregon State battering ram Steven Jackson got before leaving the Beavers to gain 10,678 NFL yards. It is 73 more carries than Stanford bull-rusher Toby Gerhart had before he became the

    No. 51 overall pick of the Minnesota Vikings.

    Carey belongs in their company, Jackson and Gerhart, Pac-12 contemporaries who made their reputation (and NFL money) by toughness, durability and being at the scene of more big hits than Taylor Swift.

    Last year’s 50th overall NFL draft pick, Florida Gators linebacker Jon Bostic, received a signing bonus of $1,246,036 and a salary of $716,509 to play for the Chicago Bears.

    Can Ka’Deem Carey, father of a small child, turn down that sort of financial jackpot? Should he?

    This is not at all like Arizona tailback Chris Henry skipping his senior season, 2007, to enter the draft. Henry was the 50th overall selection and his “big’’ year at Arizona was 581 yards, most of it coming in one splendid afternoon against the Oregon Ducks.

    Henry was an NFL combine superstar, winning the vertical leap, the 40-yard dash and the weightlifting competition. The Tennessee Titans gave him $412,000 the first year, a signing bonus of almost $700,000 and thought they had discovered gold.

    Henry gained a scant 122 yards in the NFL, was waived a year later by the Titans, and spent time briefly on the practice squads at Houston and Seattle. This is no Chris Henry.

    Carey won’t win the 40-yard dash with all the NFL scouts watching. He doesn’t have that straight-line speed. But he has a ready smile, a team-first approach and for the next five or six years, he’ll take a handoff on third-and-short and get a first down.

    A lot of people say Carey must leave Arizona because he has carried 744 times and there’s a limit to how many hits any football player can take. It is, if nothing else, a game of chance.

    The Pac-10’s 2008 offensive player of the year was Oregon State’s Jacquizz Rodgers, a gnat-type halfback who carried 788 times for the Beavers (44 more than Carey at Arizona).

    I kept hearing analysts say Rodgers was too small, he’d been beaten up too much a OSU. Yet in the NFL, with 374 combined rushes/receptions, Rodgers has become an offensive weapon of choice for the Atlanta Falcons, gaining a composite 1,830 yards in three years.

    I don’t hear anyone say Ka’Deem Carey isn’t ready, or can’t take the punishment.

    If he goes, you’ll say he made the best choice for himself. If he stays, you’ll wonder why.

  • In 40 years on the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour, Tucsonan Don Pooley played in 772 official events. At times, he was golf’s leading putter, a champion of the 2002 U.S. Senior Open, winner of Jack Nicklaus’ 1987 “Memorial” tournament and, foremost, a gentleman and wonderful representative of his alma mater, the University of Arizona.

    He somehow won more than $10 million while battling a chronic back injury and pain, as well as prostate cancer. For the first time since leaving Arizona in 1973, Pooley has no plans to play on Tour.

    “My back has made it very difficult to play at all the last three years,’’ Pooley, 62, said. “I’ve had a good career. It’s time to step back.”

    Pooley’s first victory was at the 1980 B. C. Open. He tied for fifth in the 1988 Masters. His final victory was the 2003 Allianz Championship.

    The hallmark of his career was a scintillating, five-hole playoff win over Tom Watson at the 2002 U.S. Senior Open, after Pooley shot a course-record 63.

    In the Mount Rushmore of Tucson golf, Pooley has a spot next to Ed UpdegraffCindy Rarick and Rick LaRose.

  • Nothing is official yet, but it’s likely that Sean Elliott will return to McKale Center for the Jan. 16 Arizona-ASU basketball game. Elliott, whose regular job is as radio/TV analyst for the San Antonio Spurs, has joined Fox Sports 1 as a college basketball analyst; his debut will be today’s UCLA-USC game at 1 p.m.. Arizona has four games scheduled on Fox Sports 1 this season and the UA-ASU game is the only one that doesn’t conflict with Elliott’s Spurs schedule.

  • The Indiana Pacers sent Solomon Hill to their D-League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, in attempt to keep him sharp and get him more experience. Hill averaged 17 points in his first two D-League games last week. It’s not that the competition in the D-League is dreadful. His point guard is ex-Louisville star Peyton Siva.

  • Grant Jerrett’s development in the D-League continues to impress. He scored 20 points in just 12 minutes on Friday, swishing five three-pointers in that brief period for the Tulsa 66ers. Jerrett is averaging 17.4 points.

  • Mountain View High School grad Aaron Anderson, who set school records in rebounding last season at Kennesaw (Ga.) State, is thriving in pro basketball. Anderson leads the Portugal professional league with 12.4 rebounds per game while playing for CAB Madeira. Anderson is averaging 16 points per game and was named Portugal’s EuroLeague player of the week recently.

  • One of Sean Miller’s first UA recruits, Daniel Bejarano, has flourished as a fourth-year junior at Colorado State. He was named the Mountain West Conference’s Player of the Week for, of all things, rebounding. Bejarano averaged 16.5 rebounds and 14.5 points in two games. In his first game this week, he scored 22 in a MWC-opening loss to San Diego State.

  • My annual list of Tucson’s Top 100 sports figures was once again not big enough for all those deserving mention. That’s both good and bad; it’s a testament to the excellence in athletics in Southern Arizona. But it’s unfortunate I didn’t include ex-Mountain View High School pitcher Steve Naemark on the list. He pitched Cochise College to the Junior College championship game with an 11-4 record. He was chosen Most Outstanding Pitcher at the World Series. Big miss on my part. Also deserving: Haley Howell, former Salpointe volleyball standout, who was six times this season chosen the Rookie of the Year for the Siena College Saints in the MAAC.

  • More? Empire High School running back Sean Fitzsimmons gained a Southern Arizona record 516 yards in a single game, against Catalina, last season, and rushed for 1,683 overall. In back-to-back weeks against Catalina and Pueblo, Fitzsimmons rushed for 744 yards.

  • Pueblo High athletic director Frank Rosthenhausler told me last week he has hired Brandon Sanders as the Warriors’ head football coach. Sanders was the fiery, vocal leader of Desert Swarm, a 1994 and 1995 first-team All-Pac-10 safety who has since played in the NFL and helped coach at Pima College and Catalina Foothills, among other spots. Sanders is looking for an offensive coordinator. How about B.J. Denker, who said last week he hopes to be a coach? Sanders replaces another gutty UA football player, linebacker Adrian Koch, who coached Pueblo to a 3-7 season in 2013.

  • Ironwood Ridge grad Alex McMahon, who was Arizona’s No. 2 golfer last season, and in the fall season had a strong finish in the Patriot All-America Invitational in Litchfield Park last week. He shot rounds of 72-72-67 to finish 11th overall in the top holiday amateur golf tournament in the country. McMahon returns to action Jan. 27 in the Arizona Intercollegiate at the new Sewailo Golf Course.

  • Arizona’s ability to successfully recruit five-star cornerback Jalen Tabor from Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington D.C., is a testament to Rich Rodriguez’s personality. Recruiting isn’t fast-talking or simply showing off a $72-million football compound. It’s connecting. Tabor visited Alabama on Dec. 13 and Florida on Dec. 7, almost a month after he was on Arizona’s campus. What are the odds of holding off those factors? Yet Rodriguez and his staff made a lasting connection, which was the personality weakness of both Mike Stoops and John Mackovic. RichRod knows how to talk to people and make it feel genuine. College football is about recruiting first and foremost, not schemes and not palatial square footage. RichRod is a recruiter.

  • UA’s Jeff Casteel, who was as effective as any defensive coordinator in the Pac-12 this year, shaving about 100 yards and 12 points off 2013 statistics, found out that his 57-year-old brother, Steve, died four days before the Wildcats played Boston College in the Advocare V100 Bowl. Somehow Casteel kept his edge and coached through the personal anguish before his brother’s funeral on New Year’s Day in Oviedo, Fla. RichRod awarded Casteel the first game ball after Arizona’s win.

  • Tucsonans Jim Fogltance and Cleo Robinson were among the Pac-12 officials who earned post-season football assignments. Fogltance and Robinson, both of whom were on-field Pac-12 officials for more than 20 years, were the TV replay officials at the Michigan-Kansas State Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

  • Sabino High tackle Andrew Mike will play in the Semper Fi all-star football game tonight in Los Angeles. It will be televised by Fox Sports 1. His teammate, tight end Matt Bushman wont’ play; he is out with a thumb injury/surgery. Sabino coach Jay Campos is an assistant coach at the game.

  • Awkward timing: Masters champ Adam Scott is prominently pictured in the marketing campaign for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. He has since joined U.S. Open champ Justin Rose saying they won’t play at Dove Mountain in February. How about a substitute picture of Koumei Oda, now ranked No. 67 in the world golf rankings and probably checking out travel plans to Tucson.

  • Some major football coaching dominoes remain to fall, notably at Penn State and Texas, and then there will be a trickle-down through the industry.

    Remember this: After his second Arizona season, Sean Miller was tempted to move close to home by Maryland.

    Is RichRod secure at Arizona? Would he go to Louisville if pursued? Penn State? Almost all of his assistants are strongly connected to the East.

    The money would be similar, Louisville has state-of-the-industry facilities, 41,000 season ticket holders and an athletic director, Tom Jurich, who is on Greg Byrne’s level as a get-it-done boss. And the Cardinals are taking a jump up in class next year by moving from the American Athletic Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

    I don’t intend to create any panic, but I suspect RichRod’s reputation, sullied at Michigan, has been restored by winning 16 games.

    Sooner or later, someone’s going to point to him and say “he’s our guy.”

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