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Arizona football camp Day 1: Criner ‘hasn’t missed a step’

Juron Criner (right) and David Roberts celebrate after Criner's touchdown catch against Arizona State last season. Photo by Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic

The Arizona Wildcats completed their first football practice of camp, going for about two hours after starting at 6:15 a.m. at the Rincon Vista Complex.

The big news, such as it was, was that receiver Juron Criner was out there with the Wildcats. We knew he had returned recently to informal team workouts after missing about a month for what coach Mike Stoops called “personal and family issues” … but how would he look back on the field?

Well, Juron looked like Juron.

“Juron has a great day,” Stoops said. “He is out there to prove himself, and I look for him to have a great year.”

There was some speculation that an unspecified medical problem could keep him from playing this season, but he seems to be just fine. He did not meet with the media — his decision — and there is no timetable as to when he might want to do it.

Criner caught 82 passes last season for 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“Juron hasn’t missed a step,” said senior safety Robert Golden. “I saw that when he came back to workouts. He was still fast, still had his strength and everything. That is just Juron. He is a great competitor, and he’s a great team player.”

Said quarterback Nick Foles: “I told him that I was always there for him. With him, you don’t have to say too much. He knows.”

He said it

“It’s good to be out here, just practicing, getting your team together … just having everybody do what they do, which is play football. That is what is exciting about this team of the year. Everyone has a chance. … We have a lot of experience at some positions. At other positions, we have to improve quickly, but I feel confident that those are areas where we have quality players. That is what recruiting does for you.” — Stoops

He said it, part II

“Being in a program, going on eight years, the players know what to expect day in and day out. We’re just so much further along on day one when we hit the field. It’s like we can literally play a game in a week’s period of time.” — Stoops


Arizona stuck with the same starting group of offensive linemen through spring, and the Cats opened fall camp with the same five:

LT Mickey Baucus, redshirt freshman
LG Chris Putton, sophomore
C Kyle Quinn, junior
RG Trace Biskin, junior
RT Fabbians Ebbele, redshirt freshman

If this group can all grow up and develop together, it could be a standout unit … someday. Is mid-October too soon to ask?


Nobody wants to wear No. 4. Senior quarterback Matt Scott backed out of that jersey number in the spring, opting for No. 10, which is his old high school number. Safety Marquis Flowers, who also wore No. 4 last season as a true freshman, has decided to go with No. 2, sharing that number with running back Keola Antolin. For now, no Wildcat is wearing No. 4 — at least until walk-ons get assigned numbers. …

David Kelly, who formerly hosted the pregame, halftime and postgame shows for football and men’s basketball (among other on-air duties) on 1290-AM, has started work as a sports anchor for KMSB Channel 11, replacing the departed Vinnie Vinzetta. Kelly is a savvy question-asker and a welcomed re-addition to the local media. …

True freshman defensive back Cortez Johnson was not dressed out for the first practice, although Stoops mentioned him as part of the competition at cornerback. …

WR Gino Crump couldn’t quite punch through into the playing rotation last season, but he often looks good in practices and scrimmages. He came up with a leaping catch of a 30-yard fade pass from Foles, as he out-jumped cornerback Derrick Rainey for the ball. …

More reading: Arizona receives some mention in USA Today preseason coaches poll

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