The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 67 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.
Based on career achievements, not a one-year breakout season such as Ka’Deem Carey had in 2012, the top two running backs in Arizona’s Pac-10/12 era does not yet include the junior All-American.
Throughout their Wildcat careers, Trung Canidate and David Adams, established themselves as the premier running backs in a program laden with talent in the backfield since 1978. Carey has potentially the upcoming season to sustain his success and claim a spot among this site’s all-time team since the UA joined the Pac-10 in 1978.
“One thing I do feel is if he can stay healthy, Ka’Deem will be the most productive back of all time,” Adams, who turns 49 today, commented to me yesterday.
For now, that distinction belongs to Adams and Canidate, especially when it comes to their conference accolades over the course of their career, which is the basis of this site’s all-time team credentials.
Canidate, the UA’s career rushing leader with 3,824 yards from 1996-99, is Arizona’s only two-time all-conference selection at the running back position. Adams, a Sunnyside grad who led the UA in rushing three straight years from 1984-86, is the only Wildcat back to be named the conference’s first team and second team.
Others, such as Vance Johnson, Ontiwaun Carter, Clarence Farmer and Carey, have earned first-team honors. Johnson and Carter had an honorable-mention selection in another season. Farmer had mostly 2001 as a standout season when he rushed for 1,229 yards. Carey is hopeful for another successful season after leading the nation last year in yards per game (148.4) and total rushing yards (1,929).
Canidate and Adams are included together in this site’s all-time all-conference team although they are both tailbacks. A fullback was not included because the position has not been entirely used over the years, especially now with today’s spread offenses.
Hubert Oliver, who led the UA in rushing from 1978-80, is the best fullback to play with the Wildcats since they joined the Pac-10. He was a two-time second-team choice in addition to garnering an honorable-mention selection.
Adams, 5-foot-6, 165 pounds, was known as a scatback because although he lacked size, he more than made up for it with his elusive running, speed and strength. Pound-for-pound, Adams is the best player to wear the Arizona uniform in the Wildcats’ Pac-10/12 years.
“For me to be considered one of the top backs of all time is more then an honor when you think about a school that has been playing football for over 100 years and how many players have came along during that time,” Adams told me. “Plus, the fact that most people didn’t think I could do it, makes it so much sweeter. To have your blessing and being respected by people is a great honor.”
He is one of Arizona’s most durable backs who rushed the ball at least 600 times in a career. Adams rushed 600 times for 2,571 yards in his career. The others with at least 600 carries include Carter (another scatback who had an incredible 805 carries from 1991-94), Mike Bell (678), Oliver (649) and Canidate (604).
Expect Carey to eclipse the 600-carry mark in 2013. Carey has 394 carries, 303 of them last season during his consensus All-American season. With Rich Rodriguez breaking in a new quarterback and wide receiver Austin Hill on the mend from an ACL tear, Arizona’s immediate success will be predicated on the running game.
Fans can expect to see more performances such as when Carey broke Canidate’s single-season school-record rushing mark of 1,602 yards in 1999. Against Colorado last November, Carey broke the Pac-12 and UA single-game rushing records with 366 yards on the ground. Canidate held the previous record of 288 against ASU in 1998, a game in which he bust loose for touchdown runs of 80, 66 and 48 yards (see accompanying YouTube video).
Carey is 1,470 yards from Canidate’s career rushing record at Arizona. Canidate was a first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2000. Carey expects to be another first-rounder if he leaves after this season.
If Carey performs to expectations and breaks Canidate’s career rushing record at Arizona, Canidate will likely be in attendance to congratulate him.
When TucsonCitizen.com sports editor Anthony Gimino informed Canidate that Carey broke his single-game record in the Colorado game, Canidate, bewildered over the 366-yard performance, responded: “Shoot. I should have been there to congratulate him.”
“That’s a big day right there. Three-sixty-six. Wow. I might have to make a trip down there,” said Canidate, who lives in Phoenix and hails from Central High School there.
One note of interest is that three of Arizona’s top running backs in the Pac-10/12 years are from Tucson: Johnson (Cholla), Adams (Sunnyside) and Carey (Canyon del Oro). Another standout tailback from Tucson — David Eldridge of Pueblo — garnered a second-team selection and honorable-mention selection during his UA career from 1985-88.
The best No. 67 to wear the Arizona uniform is offensive guard Charlie Dickey (1983-84). He was a second-team All-Pac-10 selection in 1984. He served on the UA coaching staff for 12 years ending in 2003. He coached the offensive line from 1992-2002 and the tight ends in 2003. He has also coached at Washington and Utah. He is in his fifth season on Kansas State’s staff as the offensive line coach.
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.