My Heisman ballot is due in five days, and I'm torn about one thing: Should I vote Ka'Deem Carey No. 3?
Would that be provincial?
Each of the Heisman voters are asked to list their three leading choices, in order, and I'm pretty solid with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel at the top.
The other players I'm considering are Carey, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, Kansas State QB Collin Klein and USC receiver Marqise Lee.
Carey is the nation's leader rusher, 1,757 yards in a power conference, and so putting him on the ballot is neither parochial nor homespun.
Many of those who follow college football now understand just how good Carey is, and that it would be a crime (football division) if he's not, at worse, a second-team All-American.
In my research of the past 25 years, I found four Pac-12 rushers, comparable to Carey, who finished in the Heisman top 10.
Washington's Greg Lewis gained 1,279 yards in 1990 and was No. 7 overall.
Oregon State's Ken Simonton gained 1,474 yards in 2000 and was No. 9.
Cal's J.J. Arrington gained 2,018 yards in 2004 and was No. 9.
Washington State's Jerome Harrison gained 1,900 yards in 2005 and was No. 9.
No Arizona player has ever finished among the Heisman top 10. Not even remotely close. Carey should be the first.
Moreover, I think Carey's 2012 season plainly puts him among the 10 leading individual seasons of Arizona's last 50 years. The only issue is deciding where he fits. Here's my list:
1. Dennis Northcutt, 1999. He established school records in receiving yards, 1,422 (still stands), and catches, 88. He led the NCAA in punt returns (18.9 per return) and was second in the NCAA in all-purpose yards. Numbers don't lie: Northcutt's '99 season sits above all in modern UA history.
2. Ricky Hunley, 1982. A sideline-to-sideline linebacker, Hunley became the school's first Pac-10 defensive Player of the Year. He had all the numbers: seven interceptions, believed to be the most for a linebacker in league history, 100 unassisted tackles. How good is that? Arizona's Lance Briggs never had more than 77. Hunley caused five fumbles, recovered four more and played on all punt coverage teams. He became the school's first College Football Hall of Fame selection.
3. Darryll Lewis, 1990. In a three-week span that season, Lewis tackled Oregon quarterback Bill Musgrave at the 1-foot line to preserve a 22-17 victory on the last play of the game and intercepted a pass at UCLA, returning it for a touchdown, to beat the Bruins 28-21 in the final minute. He was the league's co-defensive Player of the Year. He intercepted seven passes, helping him win the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back.
4. Carey. Only nine players in Pac-8, Pac-10 and Pac-12 history have gained more yards in a season.
5. Chuck Cecil, 1987. A year earlier, Cecil's 106-yard interception return to help beat Rose Bowl champ Arizona State made him something of a legend. He was better in '87, intercepting nine passes, blocking two punts, making 80 unassisted tackles, the most ever for a secondary player at Arizona to that point. He became, as Hunley and Lewis, the Pac-10 defensive Player of the Year.
6. Tedy Bruschi, 1993. Only a sophomore, Bruschi led the nation with 19 1/2 quarterback sacks and 27 1/2 tackles-for-loss, a key part of Desert Swarm's NCAA-leading 239 yards per game total defense.
7. Chris McAlister, 1998. Most identified McAlister as a consensus All-America cornerback, a shutdown defensive stud who had five interceptions, including one to seal a Holiday Bowl victory over Nebraska and a 12-1 season. But McAlister was also the nation's top special teams performer, winning the Mosi Tatupu Award, after blocking three kicks and returning a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns.
8. Max Zendejas, 1985. UA coach Larry Smith, a field-position strategist, designed his game plan around Zendejas' many clutch and late field goals. Zendejas kicked a school-record 22 field goals, including two late kicks in excess of 50 yards to knock ASU out of the Rose Bowl. He also was perfect, 23 for 23, on PATs.
9. Rob Waldrop, 1993. It's difficult to separate Waldrop's 1992 and 1993 seasons. He was a two-time consensus All-America nose tackle and won the 1993 Outland Award as the nation's top interior lineman with eight sacks and 14 tackles-for-loss.
10. Byron Evans, 1986. The Pac-10's 1986 defensive Player of the Year, Evans, a middle linebacker, set the school record with 196 tackles.
It's difficult to quantify the deeds of star linemen such as 1968 Sun Bowl standout Tom Nelson and 1998 guard Yusuf Scott, the Pac-10's Morris Award winner as the league's top lineman. Clearly, their individual seasons were among the best in UA history.
But as it sits today, 2012, Carey is No. 4 on this list and climbing.