PHOENIX - Every year, upper level college football players are faced with a tough decision, return for their senior season or declare for the upcoming NFL Draft.
This year, two Arizona college football stars have decided to say good-bye to college life and move on to fulfilling a lifelong dream of playing as a professional.
At Arizona State, red shirt junior Linebacker Carl Bradford has hired an agent and will forego his senior season in Tempe. The second team All-Pac 12 selection led the Sun Devils with 61 tackles, including 19 for loss and 8.5 sacks.
Bradford was originally recruited to ASU by former coach Dennis Erickson as one of the most highly touted fullbacks in the nation but decided he wanted to play linebacker in college instead.
Arizona State football first Tweeted the story: "ASU LB Carl Bradford will officially enter the NFL Draft. We wish him and all the other Sun Devils preparing for the draft the best of luck!"
With Bradford leaving, the ASU defense will now take an ever bigger hit next year. Along with Bradford, the Sun Devils lose seniors Will Sutton, Alden Darby, Osahon Irabor, Robert Nelson and Chris Young.
ASU head coach Todd Graham released this statement about Bradford:
"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. Additionally, with players like Carl, Will Sutton, Chris Young, Osahon Irabor and Alden Darby, we built the No. 1 defense in Pac-12 Conference play and one of the top-rated units nationally. We want to be known for tough, stout defense at ASU and Carl helped us achieve that in 2012 and 2013. We appreciate Carl for being a great Sun Devil and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors."
In Tucson, junior running back Ka'Deem Carey also made the decision to leap to the pros. The two-time Consensus All-American, two-time first team All-Pac 12 selection and the 2013 PAC-12 Offensive Player of the Year will enter the 2014 draft and forego his final year of eligibility as well.
"I'm excited for the next phase of my career and to enter the NFL Draft," Carey said. "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. The future of Arizona football is bright. Bear Down."
Carey totaled 1,885 yards on 349 carries in 2013, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He scored 19 touchdowns on the ground and averaged 157.1 yards per game (No. 2 nationally). He led the nation in carries per game with 29.08 and ranked No. 3 in total yards. Showing his diversity, Carey also caught 26 passes for 173 yards and one touchdown in 2013. He averaged 6.7 yards per catch.
"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."
He is Arizona's all-time career rushing leader (4,232 yards) and ranks seventh all-time in Pac-12 history. Carey owns the Arizona and Pac-12 single-game rushing records (366 yards vs. Colorado in 2012) and Arizona's single-season rushing record (1,929 yards in 2012). In total, he owns or shares 26 Arizona single-game, season and career records.
Make no mistake about it, both Carey and Bradford will be missed by their respective teams!