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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Top five running backs in Arizona history

Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat

5. Nic Grigsby

Nick Foles was the highlight of the Mike Stoops era, but the rushing attack of Grigsby emerged when he was just a freshman. He rushed for 704 yards in his debut season with the Wildcats, but it was Grigsby’s sophomore year when the Pac-12 Conference felt his wrath.

He ran for 1,153 yards along with 13 touchdowns in his second season. The fallout from his final two seasons at Arizona is the only factor holding him back from being in the top portion of the rankings.

Grigsby’s junior drop-off would result in the birth of Keola Antolin’s career in the Old Pueblo. Regardless, Grigsby made a career for himself in Tucson and is now exploring his professional career in the Canadian Football League, playing for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Canada has good football, eh?

4. Mike Bell

Bell played under Stoops for his final two years after being recruited by John Mackovic, for whom he played his freshman and sophomore seasons. Bell was the go-to offensive weapon until quarterback Willie Tuitama and receiver Mike ‘Money’ Thomas matured enough to put some of the weight on their shoulders.

Bell rushed for 3,154 yards and 17 touchdowns in his career at Arizona. He is also known for his flip into the end zone in 2005, when Arizona upset an unbeaten UCLA 52-14. Arizona running backs have had remarkable plays against the Bruins — it just might happen again with Nick Wilson this week.

3. Art Luppino

Luppino was arguably Arizona football’s greatest overall athlete. The only reason why he is listed at No. 3 is the level of talent in the 1950s.

Luppino led the nation in rushing 1,359 yards in 1954 and 1,313 yards in 1955 and became the first player to win consecutive NCAA rushing titles.

Known as the “Cactus Comet,” Luppino’s 44 career touchdowns stood as an Arizona record until Ka’Deem Carey surpassed that mark in 2013.

2. Trung Canidate

Canidate’s name is always brought up in the conversation of Arizona running backs. He was an AP third-team All-American and first-team All-Pac-10 in 1998 and 1999.

Watching Canidate play every Saturday was a privilege, and even though his weekly performances were overshadowed by the “Desert Swarm” defense, his knack for fitting through small gaps allowed him to leave defenders looking at the back of his jersey.

Canidate still holds the school record for longest touchdown run with a 96-yard burst against San Diego State in 1997. He held the Wildcat’s school record for rushing 3,824 yards until Ka’Deem Carey ran past the record in 2013.

Canidate was drafted late in the first round by the St. Louis Rams to play the backup role for Marshall Faulk in 2000, but his career would abruptly end because of nagging ankle injuries.

1. Ka’Deem Carey

All the best athletes go by either their first name or a nickname given to them. For instance, there’s Kobe, LeBron and even “Gronk.”

The same rule applies to Arizona’s best running back of all time, and his name is simply Ka’Deem.

This was a no brainer; Arizona’s greatest offensive weapon of all-time is atop the list of running backs. It only makes sense that the hometown standout from Canyon del Oro High School, All-American and Arizona’s all-time rushing leader is the unanimous No. 1.

Carey ran for 4,239 yards, 48 touchdowns and averaged just less than six yards per carry. Carey’s NFL career is still developing, but his career at Arizona will go down as arguably the best in Wildcat history.

Nick Wilson’s campaign is still underway, but as of now, Carey will remain the top dog.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.

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