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Knee injury threatens the season of Arizona running back Greg Nwoko

Greg Nwoko has been Arizona's third-string back in each of the past two seasons.
Photo by Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE

The junior season of Arizona Wildcats running back Greg Nwoko is in jeopardy because of a knee injury suffered in a scrimmage last weekend.

“He was just making a cut, trying to elude a tackler,” said Arizona coach Mike Stoops. “Just a freak injury.”

Stoops said the preliminary diagnosis is a torn ACL.

“We’ll see how that progresses, but it looks like it will be a long-term deal with him,” Stoops said. “This looks like a seven-month total injury for him. I would imagine we would get him back at some point during the season, but I would imagine it would be the latter end.”

Senior Keola Antolin is expected to be the lead tailback for the Wildcats; he has rushed for 1,830 yards and 21 touchdowns in his career.

Nwoko, who has been third-string behind Antolin and now-departed Nic Grigsby for the past two years, has been Arizona’s bigger-back option. He was listed at 6-foot-2 and 228 pounds last season.

Nwoko, who has used his redshirt season, rushed 57 times for 270 yards and three touchdowns in 2010.

“Greg getting hurt was just a blow for everyone because Greg is just so well-liked on the team,” said assistant Garret Chachere, who is coaching the running backs this year after two seasons of directing the inside receivers (more on this in a later story).

“He worked so hard and he’s such a good person. This was going to be an important spring for him. It was a chance to give Greg a lot of reps and have him get a lot of confidence going into the season. With that, and the new wrinkles in the offense, it was going to be a big spring for him.

“Now, with the injury, it sets him back, but it gives other guys more reps.”

This could accelerate the timetable of sophomore Daniel Jenkins, who looked good in scrimmages last spring, although he carried just eight times during the season.

“Daniel Jenkins has had a really productive spring so far,” Stoops said.

The rotation at running back doesn’t figure to get settled until the fall, when freshman recruits Ka’Deem Carey and Jared Baker arrive.

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