Arizona Wildcats football: Looking at some possible Carey replacements

2014-01-13T15:15:00Z 2014-01-13T15:17:01Z Arizona Wildcats football: Looking at some possible Carey replacementsDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Now that Ka’Deem Carey has announced his intention to enter May’s NFL draft, it’s time to start thinking about his replacements.

Yes, that’s plural.

It’s unlikely Carey’s giant shoes will be filled one back. Instead, UA coach Rich Rodriguez will open up the job for competition this spring and fall.

Here’s an alphabetical look at the candidates:

Jared Baker

Grade in 2014: Junior

Height/weight: 5-8, 188

By the numbers: Baker rushed for 127 yards on 27 carries this past season as the team’s No. 3 running back. He also averaged 23.3 yards per return on nine kick returns.

Why he could be the guy: Baker likely has the best understanding of the offense, having been here for both of Rodriguez’s two seasons and the coach likes familiarity. His teammates also claim he’s one of the fastest runners on the roster and has more than enough speed to handle the position.

Why he might not be the guy: Baker tore his ACL in the final game of the regular season against ASU. He underwent surgery last month and will be out for spring drills and perhaps some of fall camp. The injury and rehabilitation will certainly put Baker behind in the competition.

Pierre Cormier

Grade in 2014: Redshirt freshman

Height/weight: 5-10, 183

By the numbers: The San Diego native rushed for 2,233 rushing yards on 226 carries as a senior at Madison High School in California. He was rated as the 29th best running back in the country in the 2013 class by the Scout.com recruiting service.

Why he could be the guy: Cormier was rated as a four-star talent coming out of high school and was given this season to learn under Carey and work on the scout team. He’s fresh, just spent a season watching how Carey prepares and has the talent to be successful in the Pac-12.

Why he might not be the guy: Like most guys on this list, Cormier hasn’t proven he can do it at the college level yet. Even though he did redshirt, the running back is still developing and getting stronger.

Zach Green

Grade in 2014: Redshirt freshman

Height/weight: 5-10, 220

By the numbers: Green rushed for 1,900 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior at St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, Calif.

Why he could be the guy: The coaches really like Green’s physical running style and stockier body type. Like Carey, he’s not afraid of contact and can run through tackles. Rodriguez has mentioned his aggressive running style a couple of times this season. He also gained familiarity of the offense this past season, redshirting with Cormier.

Why he might not be the guy: He’s aggressive and physical, sure, but Green doesn’t have the speed that other elite college running backs do. He would seem to work best paired with a speedy back that coaches could rotate him with.

Jonathan Haden

Grade in 2014: True freshman

Height/weight: 5-8, 190

By the numbers: Haden is ranked as the 88th best running back prospect in the country by Scout and runs a 4.50 40-yard dash.

Why he could be the guy: Haden arrived in Tucson on Monday and will begin classes on Wednesday. The early move will certainly help him get up to speed during spring drills and he’ll be closer to Cormier and Green when the fall happens. If he has a strong spring, he’ll get a closer look in the fall than if he hadn’t enrolled early.

Why he might not be the guy: At 5-8, Haden is a bit undersized to play right away. He’ll also have to adjust to being hit by college players because there won’t be much contact during the spring.

Nick Wilson

Grade in 2014: True freshman

Height/weight: 5-11, 196

By the numbers: After missing time early in the season with a shoulder injury, Wilson rushed for nearly 1,000 yards over his final five games of the season at Fresno (Calif.) Central High School. He’s rated as the 28th best running back in the country by Scout.

Why he could be the guy: Wilson is a legit four-star prospect and has a lot of tools. He’s already near an ideal playing size at 5-11, 196 and should require an easier transition than most to college ball. He was wanted by UCLA, Wisconsin, Washington and other big-time programs and is seen as an instant-impact type of prospect.

Why he might not be the guy: Wilson will be the only running back not with the team for the spring, which could set him back. He also battled injuries as a senior and will have to prove he can be durable at this level.

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About this blog

Daniel Berk began covering UA football in 2013 after spending two-plus years as the Star's high school sports coordinator. Previously, he served as the sports editor and NAU beat writer for the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff for three years.

A University of Kansas graduate and St. Louis native, Berk is still getting used to 350 days of sunshine, the relentless "dry heat" of the summer and the fact that Tucson doesn't have a real hockey rink.

Contact Daniel at dberk@azstarnet.com or by calling 573-4330. Follow him on Twitter @DSBerk.

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