Star tight end to have tests for mono; Dykes likes backup’s ability
Tight end Rob Gronkowski was supposed to be a big part of Arizona’s passing attack Saturday for the season opener against Idaho.
But that strategy will change if the sophomore is diagnosed with mononucleosis.
Gronkowski, absent from Saturday’s “Meet the Team” event because of strep throat, is having additional tests this week to see if he has mono, UA coach Mike Stoops said.
“We’ll know more as the week goes on,” UA coach Mike Stoops said. “We’re all a little bit unsure right now. Hopefully it’s (cured) as quickly as possible. We’ll see.”
Mono’s symptoms can fatigue a person for one or two months.
UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes said last week that Gronkowski could catch 100 passes in the system if he stayed healthy.
Gronkowski is listed as day-to-day, with sophomore A.J. Simmons next on the tight end depth chart.
“Contingencies must be made (just in case),” Dykes said. “(He) has been one of our more consistent guys out there, but it’s what you do with a football team. Someone else has to step up and A.J. has done some good things this camp.”
Arizona has plenty of options for quarterback Willie Tuitama to find with 2007 Pac-10 receiving leader Mike Thomas, Terrell Turner, Delashaun Dean, Terrell Reese and a slew of youngsters all vying for more action.
Freshmen Dave Roberts and David Douglas could be thrown into the mix as well to get another receiver on the field.
“We may change our sets and what we feature may change,” Stoops explained.
“Whatever our best 11 are for every given situation, we have a lot of flexibility.”
Simmons is highly regarded among UA coaches despite catching just one pass for three yards last year. It was for a touchdown against Stanford.
“I really like what A.J. is doing,” UA tight end coach Dana Dimel said a couple of weeks ago. “Unfortunately, he is behind Robbie right now, but he can be a very important player for us. A.J. could probably start for almost any team in the Pac-10.”
Simmons is not as proven in the passing attack as Gronkowski, who caught 28 passes for 525 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman last season, but Simmons could see a lot of action.
“I think the coaching staff has done a good job of preparing me for something like this,” Simmons said. “I’m going to make the most of it.”
Citizen sportswriter Steve Rivera contributed to this article.
UA SEASON OPENER
• Who: Idaho at Arizona
• When: 7 p.m. Saturday
• TV: None
• Radio: 1290 AM