Ka'Deem Carey and Carl Bradford Bid Farewell to Arizona
The opening to A Tale of Cities, Charles Dickens' epic novel novel written about London and Paris, might very well describe the college football landscape of Arizona:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair...
Rarely does one compare Dickens to college football, but in this case, it holds true. Both of the state's college football programs, on the brink of reaching their highest level, will wake up tomorrow with the knowledge that a high-profile and highly productive player will be gone—a blow that could send both programs "back to whence they came."
The University of Arizona's running back Ka'Deem Carey and Arizona State University's linebacker Carl Bradford both had a year of eligibility remaining at their respective schools and both declared for the NFL draft on Monday.
Ka'Deem the Dream
Ka'Deem Carey spent only two years at the University of Arizona and is the school's all-time career rushing leader with 4,232 yards. He ranks seventh all time in Pac-12 history and holds the conference record for most rushing yards in a game with 366 yards against Colorado in 2012.
Carey's 16-game streak of 100-yard rushing games also tops the Pac-12 record books and is the longest such streak in all of college football over the past decade. He led the FBS in 2012 with 148.4 rushing yards per game, finishing with 1,929 total yards.
As reported by ESPN, Carey noted his appreciation of his tenure at Arizona:
I’m excited for the next phase of my career and to enter the NFL draft...I want to thank God, my family, Coach Rodriguez, Coach Magee and all of my coaches for everything they’ve done for me. My time playing football for Arizona will always be very special to me and I want to thank the fans and the Tucson community for supporting me throughout my career.
Carey was a two-time consensus All-American, a two-time first team All-Pac-12 selection and the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year for 2013. He was considered a finalist for the Heisman Trophy by many experts but was left off the list of invitees to the annual event in New York City. He was, however, named a finalist for the Doak Walker Award but finished behind Boston College's Andre Williams in the voting on Dec. 12.
“Ka’Deem Carey was a great player for us,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “We wish him all the best as he pursues his professional career.”
Carey is projected to be drafted late in the first round but could still be on the board come the second round.
A "Devil" of a Linebacker
Arizona State's hybrid linebacker position called the "Devil" backer seemed custom-made for Carl Bradford.
The redshirt junior out of Norco, Calif. decided to forgo his senior season, signing instead with NFL agents Dave Dunn and Justin Schulman of Athletes First, according to Liz Mullen of SportsBusinessJournal.com hours before the school had given an official statement.
Bradford had a stellar season in 2012 with 11.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss. His 2013 resume sported 61 total tackles, including a team-high 19 for losses totaling 107 yards. His 8.5 sacks were tied for the team lead with Davon Coleman. Bradford also led the team with five quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles.
Bradford issued this statement on Monday:
After four great years on the campus of Arizona State University, I have decided to pursue my dream of playing in the National Football League. I have many wonderful memories of my time here, and I will miss playing in front of the terrific Sun Devil fans. Although I will not be on the field in maroon and gold next season, I am excited to cheer on the Sun Devils with all of you. I am honored to be a graduate of ASU and I look forward to supporting the university as a proud alumnus.
Bradford was an integral part of an Arizona State defense that ranked near the top in many FBS statistical categories, including most interceptions returned for touchdowns (tied with three others), No. 3 for most interceptions and sixth in interception yards and sacks.
With the graduation of defensive standouts Will Sutton, Chris Young, Alden Darby and Osahon Irabor, Bradford made the right choice by declaring this year rather than being a part of a 2014 defense that will go through plenty of growing pains.
"It was an honor and a privilege to coach Carl Bradford at Arizona State University. Carl leaves ASU with his degree and that is what we are most proud of," Coach Todd Graham said in a statement on Monday. "We appreciate Carl for being a great Sun Devil and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors."
According to Ryan Bafaloukos of House of Sparky:
"Bradford is projected to go as high as the second round by some draft analysts who believe the Arizona State product has tremendous upside as an edge pass rusher at the next level."
What Lies Ahead?
And so it begins. Which team will have a tougher time rebuilding? Arizona without Carey or Arizona State without nine defensive starters including Bradford?
The future is yet to be seen, but, Rivals.com ranks Arizona State second in the conference and Arizona fourth in terms of their 2014 recruiting classes. The teams rank No. 19 and 23 respectively nationally. Scout.com tells another story altogether, ranking the Sun Devils and Wildcats as the top two teams in the conference and No. 11 and 15 nationally.
It's no secret that both teams will be rebuilding in 2014, but with veteran coaches in Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham, the down time will be minimal.
One thing that will always remain the same is that each team circles one date on the calendar every year, the annual meeting for the Territorial Cup. This year it returns to its traditional day after Thanksgiving slot and the University of Arizona will host.
It will be interesting to see where Carey, Bradford and Sutton end up, hopefully not on the same team, that would truly be Dickensian.