Ka'Deem Carey has always been a star, whether it was with the peewee Marana Broncos, the Canyon del Oro High School Dorados or - this year - the Arizona Wildcats.
As good as he has always been, though, Carey never considered himself among the nation's best.
That's what makes Saturday's news so unexpected.
Arizona's sophomore running back received at least two Heisman Trophy votes, though he finished outside the top 10.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel won the award, beating out Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. USC wide receiver Marqise Lee finished fourth.
Of those voters who report their picks, two - Star columnist Greg Hansen and The Arizona Republic's Paola Boivin - selected Carey to finish third.
Carey is the first-ever Tucsonan to receive a Heisman Trophy vote, and the first UA player since the Wildcats joined the Pac-12 in 1978 to earn such honors. The streak likely goes back further than that: Art Luppino was one of the nation's top running backs in 1956, but did not finish in the Heisman's top 10. It's unclear if he received a single vote.
Carey said he was stunned to just be mentioned for college football's most prestigious award. Asked if he ever though he'd receive a Heisman vote, the Wildcats' sophomore chuckled.
"Never, to tell you the truth," Carey said.
Carey, coincidentally, said he never followed the Heisman ceremony as a kid. He preferred to follow NFL backs, anyway; former Philadelphia Eagles star Brian Westbrook was his favorite.
"He could catch the ball, run the ball and block," he said.
Carey can, too. Just a sophomore, Carey leads the nation with 146.42 rushing yards per game and is second in total rushing with 1,757 yards. The Sporting News and Walter Camp both named Carey a first-team All-American this week, making him Arizona's first since Antoine Cason in 2007.
Carey figures to become a consensus first-team All-American this week, when The Associated Press and Football Writers Association of America teams are released.
Carey's inclusion didn't surprise his UA teammates, though.
"I'm proud of him. I think he deserves to be nationally recognized for his season," wide receiver Austin Hill said. "He's a hard worker and he's a great guy, so I think he really deserves it."
On StarNet: Take the challenge and make your bowl predictions at azstarnet.com/bowls
• What: New Mexico Bowl: Arizona (7-5) vs. Nevada (7-5)
• When: 11 a.m. Saturday
• TV; radio: ESPN; 1290-AM, 107.5- FM