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Arizona’s Buckner on a curious watch list for Biletnikoff Award

Dan Buckner

Dan Buckner runs after a catch against Oregon last season. Photo by Chris Morrison-US PRESSWIRE

Arizona Wildcats senior Dan Buckner was included in the preseason watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top wide receiver — a list that is hard to take seriously.

That Buckner could be included in a list of the 48-best receivers isn’t a stretch, although he would rate somewhere near the bottom of the order and his chances of winning sits somewhere close to nil.

What’s laughable is that the watch list doesn’t include two of the best, most exiting wideouts in the country — USC’s Marqise Lee and Clemson’s Sammy Watkins. They not only deserve to be on a 48-deep list, but it’s almost impossible to leave them out of the top five.

It wouldn’t be a shock if they are your first-team All-American receivers at the end of the season.

Now, it’s only a watch list; nothing to get too excited about it. The folks at the Biletnikoff Award can add candidates during the season to present to its selection committee, which, according to its website, consists of 159 members — including me.

But that’s a huge credibility issue not to have both on the list.

Watkins, who caught 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns as a true freshman last season, did have a spot of legal trouble in the offseason (misdemeanor drug charges). That doesn’t seem to be a reason to keep him off the watch list; the winner of the past two Biletnikoff Awards, Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, had a misdemeanor DUI charge on his record from 2010.

Lee caught 73 passes for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns as a true freshman last season, proving to be especially dangerous after the catch. He teams with junior Robert Woods to form the best receiving duo in the country. And they have Matt Barkley throwing to them.

As for Buckner, he had 42 catches for 606 yards and two touchdowns last season, his first at Arizona after his transfer from Texas.

He ranked behind Juron Criner, David Douglas and Gino Crump in receiving yards and receptions last season, but that trio is gone, opening the door for Buckner to be the top wideout for new starting quarterback Matt Scott in UA’s new read-option offense.

Here are the 48 players on the Biletnikoff Award watch list:

Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin, JR
Keenan Allen, California, JR
Tavon Austin West Virginia, SR
Stedman Bailey, West Virgina, JR
Emory Blake, Auburn, SR
Josh Boyce, TCU, JR
Jheranie Boyd, North Carolina, SR
Corey Brown, Ohio State, JR
Dan Buckner, Arizona, SR
Michael Campanaro, Wake Fores, JR
DeVonte Christopher, Utah, SR
Keenan Davis, Iowa, SR
Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech, SR
Mike Davis, Texas, JR
Andre Debose, Florida, JR
Aaron Dobson, Marshall, SR
Noel Grigsby, San Jose State, JR
Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas, SR
Nick Harwell, Miami (Ohio), JR
Willie Haulstead, Florida State, JR
Erik Highsmith, North Carolina, SR
Cody Hoffman, BYU, JR
DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson, JR
Justin Hunter, Tennessee, JR
Allen Hurns, Miami (FL), JR
Darius Johnson, SMU, SR
TJ Jones, Notre Dame, JR
Tavarres King, Georgia, SR
Alec Lemon, Syracuse, SR
Colin Lockett, San Diego State, JR
Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt, JR
Matt Miller, Boise State, SO
TJ Moe, Missouri, SR
Uzoma Nwachukwu, Texas A&M, SR
Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech, SR
Tevin Reese, Baylor, JR
Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee, JR
Roy Roundtree, Michigan, SR
Mike Shanahan, Pittsburgh, SR
Kenny Stills, Oklahoma, JR
Devin Street, Pittsburgh, JR
Ryan Swope, Texas A&M, SR
Conner Vernon, Duke, SR
Eric Ward, Texas Tec,h JR
Markus Wheaton, Oregon State, SR
Terrance Williams, Baylor, SR
Marquess Wilson, Washington State, JR
Robert Woods, USC, JR

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