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Arizona’s Juron Criner to get the full ESPN treatment this summer

Juron Criner acknowledges the crowd after catching the game-winning TD pass against Cal last season. Photo by Chris Morrison, US-PRESSWIRE

Arizona Wildcats senior receiver Juron Criner soon will be getting a lot more exposure.

Criner will be part of the Pac-12′s promotional tour for football this summer, including a stop in Bristol, Conn., where he will get the full ESPN treatment of interviews across various radio and television platforms.

Criner told TucsonCitizen.com that he found out about the trip Monday.

“I feel like there is no such thing as not enough exposure, so, of course, I need it,” Criner said.

“But as far as this being my kind of thing, I would say no, because I’m not a fan of the cameras and I’m not a spotlight kind of guy. But I’ll eventually have to get used to it, so why not start now?”

Last year, the Pac-10 took its head coaches and four quarterback, including Arizona’s Nick Foles, to the ESPN campus in late July to go through what the network calls the “car wash” cycle of interviews.

“Meeting different guys, traveling to a different place … I’m looking forward to it in a lot of different ways,” Criner said.

The Pac-10 — which will officially change its name to the Pac-12 on July 1 with the addition of Colorado and Utah — has not released any details of this summer’s tour.

Criner is coming off a season in which he was a unanimous selection to the All-Pac-10 team. SI.com and CBSSports.com selected him as a second-team All-American.

Criner, despite battling various injuries throughout last season, caught 82 passes for 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“We’re looking for him to take this to another level,” Arizona coach Mike Stoops said in an interview last week. “He ought to be a 100-catch guy. That’s what he ought to be. We have to get him the ball that many times and let him do his thing.”

Said Criner: “If I get 100 passes thrown my way, then I’m going to make 100 catches.”

Criner is one of several standout receivers returning to college, including Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles, South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery, Texas A&M’s Jeff Fuller and currently suspended Michael Floyd of Notre Dame.

Criner considered turning pro after this season before deciding to return. He said that — as far as he can remember — the NFL advisory committee came back with a projected draft grade of late second round/early third round.

“I wasn’t sure since they never sent me anything,” Criner said. He added with a laugh: “They just called me and I was so excited to talk to them that I forgot everything he told me. …

“But even if I had gotten an early second/late first, I think coming back would have been the better chance. There are a lot of things that I’m not ready for. And going out on my own and experiencing the real world is one of them.

“This college family and the college atmosphere, I wasn’t ready to give that up. I’ll leave when my time is up.”

He’ll get a great experience this summer on the promotional tour, soaking up more of that college atmosphere and preparing him for what he hopes will be regular high-profile media opportunities a year from now.

“I just feel like everything is going as planned,” Criner said.

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