Ka’Deem Carey started stressing about the 40-yard dash more than a year ago.
He remembers watching the 2013 NFL combine from his Tucson apartment, shortly after leading the nation in rushing and being named a consensus first-team All-American.
He saw UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin run his 40 in 4.49 seconds, Oregon’s Kenjon Barner run a 4.52 and North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard run a 4.53.
Though he’s one of the most productive running backs in college football the past two seasons, Carey’s not a track star.
Still, the 40 is a rite of passage for NFL hopefuls. The UA’s all-time leading rusher got a second crack at it during the UA’s annual pro day on Thursday. Running on the Arizona Stadium turf, Carey posted times as fast as 4.66 seconds, his agent, Kenny Zuckerman, said.
That’s the same time Wisconsin’s Montee Ball, the 58th overall pick in 2013, posted at last year’s combine. Carey ran the 40 in 4.70 seconds at this year’s combine.
“I have great game speed,” Carey said. “I’m not a track guy.”
What he is, Zuckerman says, is one heck of a football player. In three years, Carey set or tied 26 school marks. He rushed for a school-record 4,239 yards and 48 touchdowns, and finished his career with 5,483 all-purpose yards and 52 total touchdowns.
He is the first offensive player in UA history to be named a two-time consensus first-team All-American.
“It’s really tough to equate running a 40 to being a great running back,” Zuckerman said. “To be a great running back in the NFL, you have to have the vision and ability to make people miss and Ka’Deem does. He runs hard, he’s tough to bring down, he breaks a lot of tackles.
“You can’t ignore the film.”
Thursday was less about Carey’s film and more about his testing and interviewing skills.
The running back performed many of the same drills he did at the combine, including the vertical leap, bench press, broad jump and the 20-yard shuttle run. Zuckerman said Carey improved his combine vertical leap of 32ƒ by 3ƒ inches. The rest of the results were similar to what he did at the combine in Indianapolis.
“To be honest, I don’t even think he needs to go through this process,” said former UA quarterback B.J. Denker, who also participated in pro day. “Just turn on the film. He’s the best running back in the country. I don’t care how many times you can rep 225 pounds.
“Turn on the film, so every player, coach and scout can know how good he is.”
Carey didn’t have to do the drills on Thursday, but wanted to because, Zuckerman said, “he’s a competitor and he wanted to compete.”
More than 60 coaches and scouts from 25 teams traveled to Arizona Stadium to see and talk to Carey and the UA’s other pro prospects.
Carey will now start to conduct personal workouts for interested teams. He’ll operate out of San Diego, where he moved after turning pro. He has been working out at Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad.
Carey said he’ll return home to watch the draft. The former Canyon del Oro High School star said he’s already heard from the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns.
“There are a lot of teams interested in him,” said Zuckerman, who added there’s already one team that has set up a workout for Carey. “But this thing isn’t a consensus. The team that wants him the most will get him. That’s how it goes. Will there be teams that might not love him? It’s possible.”
Carey will continue to interview with teams like he did at the combine. There, teams asked Carey about his off-field issues from last offseason when he was charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct stemming from a domestic violence incident with his then-pregnant ex-girlfriend. The charges were later dropped.
Carey was also kicked out of a UA-UCLA basketball game at McKale Center.
“They want to know about my personality; am I a knucklehead? Do I go out there and start a lot of drama?” Carey said. “They’re going to put money into you, so they have to know everything about you. I don’t have problems talking about anything.”