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Arizona’s Juron Criner will return for senior season

Juron Criner had 11 touchdowns receptions in 2010, giving him 21 for his career.
Photo by Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE

Arizona Wildcats junior receiver Juron Criner will be returning for his senior season, coach Mike Stoops said Tuesday morning.

“I think that, obviously, is a big deal for us,” Stoops said at a news conference to wrap up the 2010 season.

“For Juron to have the maturity to see that he needs to continue to progress to be the best … he wants to be the best wide receiver in the country, and that’s why he is coming back. I think another year will serve him well.”

Criner, one of four unanimous selections to the All-Pac-10 team, earned second-team All-American honors from CBSSports.com and SI.com.

He finished the season with 82 catches for 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns. He had eight games this season with at least 95 receiving yards and five games in triple-digits.

Criner, at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, has ideal size for the NFL, and he was impressive this season on deep routes and with his run-after-the-catch ability on quick throws.

“You obviously like that combination of size and speed,” Rob Rang, a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com told TucsonCitizen.com last month. “Good body control and hands. I would be curious to see what he is in terms of 40-yard speed. It looks like he has build-up speed, but I would want to see how explosive he is.”

Criner applied to get his draft status from an NFL advisory committee, although Stoops would not say what the results were.

“There’s no question, he’s an NFL player. He’s ready,” Stoops said. “I think he’ll be more ready. He gets the opportunity to make more money staying in school, and that’s a rare opportunity to do that. I think he me made a very mature (decision). I think it shows the growth in him as a person. I think it tells you the faith he has in what we’re doing.

“And I think it tells you a lot about what he wants to do. He wants to leave a legacy behind. That is probably the thing I’m most proud of; it shows maturity on his part.”

Wide receiver is perhaps Arizona’s deepest position for 2011, including the addition of Dan Buckner, who sat out last season under NCAA transfer rules. The Wildcats have the steady David Douglas and Dave Roberts returning as outside receivers, and there were good reports during the season of the progress of a pair of redshirting freshmen — Tyler Slavin and Austin Hill.

“(With Juron) opposite Dan Buckner, I feel they will be two of the premier receivers in all of football,” Stoops said.

At inside receiver, Terrence Miller emerged late in the season as a big target. Smaller, quicker options inside are Bug Wright and Richard Morrison. The Wildcats will also have speedster Garic Wharton, who redshirted as a freshman in 2010, available.

Several other top underclassmen receivers, including Georgia’s A.J. Green, Alabama’s Julio Jones and Pitt’s Jon Baldwin, have already declared for the draft.

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