Ka'Deem Carey Officially Enters 2014 NFL Draft

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIJanuary 13, 2014

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Arizona Wildcats star Ka'Deem Carey has been one of the most productive running backs in college football over the past two seasons, and now he is prepared to take his talents to the NFL.

Carey announced his decision Monday, Jan. 13, via Daniel Berk of the Arizona Daily Star:

Carey in statement: "I’m excited for the next phase of my career and to enter the NFL Draft.”

— Daniel Berk (@DSBerk) January 13, 2014

This confirmed a previous report by Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports that stated Carey will forgo his senior year in Tucson to enter the 2014 NFL draft:

Getlin mentioned in his report that at least two teams gave Carey a first-round grade during the draft advisory process, which certainly couldn't have dissuaded the 21-year-old from making the leap.

The decision makes a ton of sense for Carey, because the shelf life of running backs is becoming shorter in the modern game, with age 30 being widely viewed as the beginning of a ball-carrier's decline.   

Although Carey is still far from that mark, he has undertaken a daunting workload in the Wildcats' spread attack under head coach Rich Rodriguez. While it did help Arizona rank 11th in the country with 264.9 yards rushing per contest, the heavy reliance on the run taxed Carey with 349 carries this season.

That was up from the 303 times he ran the rock as a sophomore, and his yards per carry fell from 6.4 to 5.4. Part of that was due to the less dynamic quarterback play from B.J. Denker when compared to his predecessor Matt Scott.

Carey's numbers are staggering nevertheless. In 2013, he accumulated 1,885 yards on the ground with 19 touchdowns and caught 26 passes for 173 yards and another score.

Those efforts won him the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year award, but his previous campaign was even more impressive numbers-wise: 1,929 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns, with 36 receptions, 303 yards and one other trip to paydirt.

The two-time All-American and first-team all-conference selection leaves behind an amazing legacy with the Wildcats, but it will be exciting to see what he can do in the pros.

CBS Sports ranks Carey as the No. 1 back in the 2014 class, and he could very well prove it if his collegiate production is any sign of things to come.

Carey is listed at 5'10" and 207 pounds on Arizona's official athletics website. His combination of quickness and power highlights his all-around skill set.

LSU's Jeremy Hill, who figures to be an intriguing prospect, also declared for the NFL draft on Monday:

This makes for an interesting running back class, along with Ohio State's Carlos Hyde and several others, who threaten to change last year's trend that featured no running backs selected in the first round.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller feels teams should wait to pick up hot commodities such as Carey, riding the wave of 2013's potential emerging trend:

Wherever Carey falls in the draft, it seems a fortunate franchise will be getting a hard-working player whose game should translate well to the NFL gridiron.