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Saturday, September 20, 2014 | Last updated: 11:01am

With charges dismissed, football running back Carey has chance to redeem himself



In 2012, Arizona’s consensus All-American running back Ka’Deem Carey had a dream season. But his offseason has been a nightmare. Now, it might finally be over.

The news that the Tucson City Prosecutor’s Office decided to drop disorderly conduct and assault charges against Carey was a huge positive for the running back and the football program in an offseason of woe. Carey was due to stand trial next month for his role in an alleged altercation with his pregnant ex-girlfriend.

Carey’s attorneys from Farhang & Medcoff released a statement saying he did nothing wrong and the charges were “unjustified.”

According to a University of Arizona Police Department report, a little over a month after the Dec. 23, 2012 incident allegedly took place, Carey was removed from the UCLA men’s basketball game after attending without a ticket and asked a police officer, “Do you know who I am? I’m an All-American.”

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The obvious conclusion is that Carey had gotten such a big head since winning the rushing crown that the run in with the law didn’t encourage him to lie low. He actually did the opposite.

The two incidents lowlight an offseason for Arizona football that was almost as bad as the reception for the Xbox One. Teammates were caught exchanging punches on camera during the New Mexico Bowl, a coach allegedly fought a student manager and an All-American candidate and receiver Austin Hill tore his ACL in the final practice of spring camp.

Something had to finally go Arizona’s way. Now Carey must make the most of it.

Carey hasn’t issued a statement (or even tweeted) about the city’s decision to drop the charges, but on Friday he did use social media to show his excitement about College Football Live naming him the top running back in the country.

He tweeted: “Espn got me #1 Running back in the Nation going into next year…time to live up to it!! #beardown” with an Instagram photo of the top-five list.

For the sake of the UA’s chances this season, hopefully the bad press has humbled the Tucson native.

Last season, Carey led the nation in rushing with 1,929 yards, broke the Pac-12 single game rushing record with 366 yards against Colorado and set school records for rushing yards in a season and rushing touchdowns (23).

Carey’s troubled offseason killed off the hype for a football team that surprisingly finished 8-5 and won a bowl game in head coach Rich Rodriguez’s first season. It also ended Arizona’s Heisman campaign for Carey.

Honestly, he doesn’t have that good of a shot to actually win it anyway. While the Heisman is supposedly an award for the best college football player, it’s really the best offensive skill player on a team that lost no more than a couple games. Still, the hype that surrounds a legitimate Heisman candidate brings positive publicity to a school.

The UA may jumpstart “#teamkadeem” again but almost assuredly not on as grand a scale as the school’s PR-savvy Athletic Director Greg Byrne would have had the athletic department do before all the incidents.

The last time Arizona hyped a Heisman candidate was last century with Trung Canidate, and that didn’t go too well. No. 4 Arizona was abused at No. 3 Penn State 41-7 to open the 1999 season and would go on to finish 6-6.

Carey can redeem himself by rushing a lot of yardage this season. If he is humbled into putting in extra during the offseason or channels the anger from a rough few months into running hard during games — or a combination of both — he can help his team and his NFL draft stock.

The Wildcats can handle whatever suspension, if any, Carey is given. Their first three opponents — NAU, UNLV and UTSA — are so easy that even an SEC team could make fun of the ease of Arizona’s non-conference schedule. But, once Pac-12 play starts, he will be vital.

The UA defense is at and Arizona will rely on a brand new starting quarterback, likely a junior college transfer or a true freshman.

Carey will be draft eligible next spring, so he needs to be good enough for the pros to not mind his baggage. In terms of talent, Carey should easily be a Thursday pick, but other issues raise more red flags than a game featuring replacement officials.

Everyone makes mistakes, but what’s most important is how we respond to them. Now a marked man, Carey has a chance to clean up his reputation in the second act of his college career.

— James Kelley is a journalism and history senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @JamesKelley520.


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