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Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | Last updated: 4:21pm

Carrying on without Carey



With the announcement that junior running back Ka’Deem Carey will forgo his senior season, a new challenge has developed for the Arizona coaching staff.

Backup running back Daniel Jenkins was a senior. These losses leave a huge hole for a position that has been the centerpiece of the Wildcats’ offense the past two seasons.

The early candidate to replace Carey is sophomore Jared Baker, who was the third-string running back on the depth chart for most of the 2013 season.

At 5-foot-8 and 188 pounds Baker’s build is similar to Carey’s, but he has yet to prove himself on the field and saw little playing time last season.

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By Rebecca Sasnett 2013 / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Rebecca Sasnett/ The Daily Wildcat UA senior quarterback B.J. Denker passes the ball to UA junior running back Ka'Deem Carey during the Advocare V100 bowl game at the Independance Stadium in Shreveport, La Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013.

Baker finished the 2013 season with 27 rushing attempts for 130 rushing yards. Toward the end of the season, Baker was featured as the main kick-off return man.

Though he has seen little playing, Carey has mentioned and praised Baker in practice and in the weight room. Carey admitted during the season that Baker was stronger than him, and that he held overall team records in the weight room.

However, Baker tore his ACL on a kick return in Arizona’s final regular season game against ASU. His current status and return timetable is still very much up in the air. It is unlikely that Baker will return in time for the start of spring practice in April.

After Baker, no returning running back attempted a rush in 2013, so the following candidates are unknowns.

Freshmen Zach Green and Pierre Cormier were the two highest recruited running backs to join Arizona this past season. But both redshirted and were only featured on the practice squad.

Green is also built similar to Carey. At 5-foot-10, he isn’t the ideal height, but his strong lower half makes him a challenge for defenders to tackle on first attempt. Also like a young Carey, Green lacks speed and elusiveness but could develop those skills.

Cormier is a smaller and more elusive back and has good versatility. He is well-rounded, which fits well into head coach Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense, and he may get more playing time on passing plays.

In 2012, as a senior at Madison High School in San Diego, Calif., Cormier led the Warhawks to a 14-1 overall record and a California state Division III championship. He finished his season with 29 touchdowns and 2,233 rushing yards, averaging 159.5 yards per game.

Arizona’s 2014 recruiting class has many athletic freshmen who are potential running backs, including Tucson’s Salpointe Catholic High School commit Cameron Denson. But the recruit who most likely will make an impact at the running back position early in the 2014 season is Nick Wilson, a 6-foot, 191-pound running back from Fresno, Calif.

Unlike the other athletic recruits, Wilson is a pure running back whose speed and strength are well advanced for his age.

Other recruits are talented but could see more playing time on defense or special teams, as they are not as developed as Wilson.

Follow Luke Della @LukeDella


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