When Ka’Deem Carey steps off the team charter plane today in Shreveport, La., it could very well mark his last business trip as an Arizona Wildcat.
Of course, Carey still has to decide whether he’ll return for his senior season or make himself eligible for May’s NFL draft. The running back is still awaiting feedback from the NFL draft advisory board and said he plans on making his decision after the AdvoCare V100 Bowl on Tuesday.
“We’ll be communicating when we get the evaluation back from the NFL on where he’s projected to be,” UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. “I’ll try to talk to some general managers and some people in the league and see what they have projected, and we’ll sit down and he’ll make a decision that’s best for him.”
Carey said his “mind definitely isn’t made up,” and there are a lot of different factors he’s looking at.
But what if this is it?
What if the game against Boston College is really the finale for No. 25? What if the man who owns or shares 21 school records plays his last game in a UA uniform on Tuesday?
Where do the Wildcats turn for 2014?
There are several options.
It’s almost a given that if Carey leaves, his void won’t be filled by just one player. Instead, it would be replacement by committee.
Rodriguez and the UA would turn to several backs to replace the two-time All-American.
Redshirt freshmen Pierre Cormier and Zach Green would likely get the longest looks during spring drills. Sophomore Jared Baker suffered a leg injury against Arizona State and could miss the spring, opening the door even wider for Cormier and Green.
Both were highly regarded coming out of high school.
Cormier, listed at 5 feet 10 inches and 183 pounds, was rated a four-star prospect by the Scout.com recruiting service and chose Arizona over offers from UCLA, Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, Boise State and others.
He ran for 2,233 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior at San Diego’s Madison High School and served as a scout-team back for the UA this season while he redshirted.
“I accepted my role and looked at it as a positive thing for me to redshirt,” Cormier said. “I got to get better physically and get stronger and faster and learn the system a little better. I think it was a good thing for me to redshirt this season and watch the best running back in the country.”
Green, a bigger back at 5-10, 220, was rated a three-star recruit out of high school and spent the year redshirting with Cormier.
The two backs bring different styles to the field, which could give Rodriguez plenty of options if they become the main two backs to fill Carey’s void.
“We’re a great combination,” Cormier said. “You don’t see that a lot in a backfield where you have a shifty guy like myself and then a big dude like him. Both of us in the backfield can be very special in this offense. We try to encourage each other and push each other, and I think it’s going to show next season.”
Cormier and Green aren’t the only options if Carey leaves.
The UA has verbal commitments from two running backs for its 2014 class in Jonathan Haden and Nick Wilson.
Haden is expected to graduate high school early and be with the team for spring drills to join Cormier and Green in the competition.
Wilson won’t be here until the summer but is rated as the 28th-best back in the country by Scout and had offers from several big-time programs including UCLA, Washington, Wisconsin, Tennessee, ASU and Arkansas.
Of course, if Carey surprises people and returns for his final season, Baker, Cormier, Green, Haden and Wilson will all have to wait another year to get their chance.
“I could wake up tomorrow and my mind is set, and I just know what I want to do,” Carey said last week. “But my plan is to make it (his decision) after the bowl game and see how it plays out one step at a time.”