The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 51 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.
When it comes to a track record, how can any player in the Pac-12 top Arizona junior running back Ka’Deem Carey?
Carey is the only returning player in the Pac-12 that led the nation last season in a statistical category — total rushing yards (1,921 yards on 303 carries). His average yards per game — 147.8 — also topped the nation.
USC junior receiver Marqise Lee and UCLA junior linebacker Anthony Barr are the next closest, finishing second nationally in their respective categories.
Lee’s 1,721 yards with 118 catches ranked only behind Baylor’s Terrance Williams (1,832 yards with 97 receptions). Barr’s 13.5 sacks ranked only behind Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, who tallied 14 sacks.
Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Daily News and 10 other media members who cover the Pac-12 recently ranked the Pac-12’s top 25 players, regardless of position.
Carey finished No. 6 overall in the balloting behind (in order) Lee, Barr, ASU senior defensive tackle Will Sutton, Oregon sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota and Oregon junior running back De’Anthony Thomas.
All of those players are dominant in their own way. Thomas will garner more Heisman talk than Carey because of Oregon’s national charm — the Ducks’ mascot works at ESPN, remember — and the likelihood the Ducks will finish with a better overall record. Based on previous performances, in which Carey has proven himself over the course of an entire season, Carey should be rated higher than sixth.
As Wang indicates in his blog, no set criteria was in place for the basis of the ranking. At least to me, it looks similar a beauty-pageant ranking. Who is the player that the media will hype the most? That looks like the criteria.
Carey’s achievements far outweigh those of Thomas, who was not the Ducks’ leading running back last season. Kenjon Barner, who has exhausted his eligibility, was the sixth-leading rusher in the nation last season with 1,767 yards rushing with 278 carries.
Thomas rushed 92 times for 701 yards for an incredible 7.6 yards per rush, but the number of carries is far short of Carey’s 303. Carey averaged a very respectable 6.4 yards per carry.
Against an Arizona defense that ranked No. 118 nationally last season, Thomas gained only 48 yards on 12 carries (4 yards per rush), in the Wildcats’ 49-0 loss.
Here’s my ranking of the top 25 players in the Pac-12 based on what they showed us last year (what they have proven of themselves to this point):
1. Ka’Deem Carey, junior running back, Arizona
2. Marqise Lee, junior wide receiver, USC
3. Anthony Barr, junior linebacker, UCLA
4. Will Sutton, senior defensive tackle, ASU
5. Marcus Mariota, sophomore quarterback, Oregon
6. Morgan Breslin, senior linebacker, USC
7. David Yankey, senior guard, Stanford
8. Austin Hill, senior wide receiver, Arizona (out potentially for the season with an ACL tear)
9. Bishop Sankey, junior running back, Washington
10. De’Anthony Thomas, junior running back, Oregon
11. Ed Reynolds, senior safety, Stanford
12. Taylor Kelly, junior quarterback, ASU
13. Carl Bradford, junior linebacker, ASU
14. Brett Hundley, sophomore quarterback, UCLA
15. Trent Murphy, senior linebacker, Stanford
16. Scott Crichton, junior defensive end, Oregon State
17. Marion Grice, senior running back, ASU
18. Brendan Bigelow, sophomore running back, Cal
19. Shayne Skove, senior linebacker, Stanford
20. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, junior cornerback, Oregon
21. Silas Redd, senior running back, USC
22. Hroniss Grasu, junior center, Oregon
23. Hayes Pullard, senior linebacker, USC
24. Brandin Cooks, junior receiver, Oregon State
25. Eric Kendricks, junior linebacker, UCLA
I included Hill on this list because he deserves mention as one of the leading returners despite his potentially season-ending injury suffered during spring drills. Another Arizona player who can crack this top 25 list is senior linebacker Jake Fischer, who is on the Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year) watch list.
The Bednarik Award watch list was announced Monday. The watch-list announcements will continue through July 19. This site will update after the announcements.
The current Pac-12 breakdown (by school) of players on the watch lists:
1. ASU 7
2. Stanford 6
4. Oregon 5
5. UCLA 4
6. Oregon State 3
8. Arizona 2
10. Utah 1
11. Cal 0
Washington State 0
2013 COLLEGE FOOTBALL WATCH LISTS
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The best No. 51 to wear the Arizona jersey, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino is center Tom Greenfield (1936-38). He was selected a Little All-American in 1938 and went on to play for the Green Bay Packers.
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.