Over the next week, Zona Zealots will be previewing the Arizona Wildcats’ 2013 roster in advance of their season opener against NAU on Aug. 30 (For the full list of position previews, click here).
RSr. Terrence Miller (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde), RSr. Richard Morrison (Royse City, Texas/Royse City), RJr. Austin Hill (Corona, Calif./Eleanor Roosevelt), RJr. Garic Wharton (Las Vegas/Valley), Jr. Trevor Ermisch (Phoenix/Sandra Day O’Connor), RSo. Johnny Jackson (San Diego, Calif./St. Augustine), RSo. David Richards (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdale), RFr. Clive Georges (Key West, Fla./Key West), RFr. Trey Griffey (Orlando/Dr. Phillips), RFr. Josh Kern (San Antonio/Clark)
Dan Buckner (Arizona Cardinals), Sean Willet, Ademola Adeniran, R.J. Aguero, Tyler Slavin, Jarrell Bennet (Southeastern Louisiana), Michael Cooper, Ben Sullivan, Dame Ndiaye, Drew Robinson
RSo. Nolan Heyer (Huntington Beach, Calif./Orange Coast College), So. Cayleb Jones (Austin/Austin/Texas), So. Davonte’ Neal (Akron, Ohio/Chaparral/Notre Dame), Fr. Donte’ Cretain (San Diego, Calif./Horizon Christian Academy), Fr. Paul Elvira (Hayden, Ariz./Marcos de Niza), Fr. Samajie Grant (Compton, Calif./Colony), Fr. Aaron Lacombe (Westlake Village, Calif./Crespi Carmelite), Fr. Nate Phillips (Chandler, Ariz./Basha), Fr. Drake Pierre (Mesa, Ariz./Red Mountain), Fr. Gerhard De Beer (Pretoria, South Africa/Afrikaanse Hoer Seunskool)
The wide receiver position was the most certain offensive position heading into the offseason, but graduation, injuries and departures have caused concern in the passing game.
The biggest loss was last-year’s leading receiver, Austin Hill, who tore his ACL in April and will likely miss the entire season. Last year, Hill exploded for 81 catches, 1,364 and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore, being named to the All-Pac-12 Second Team.
Things got a little more uncertain after the departure of Tyler Slavin, who left the team for unspecified reasons in June. Slavin, who caught the game-winning touchdown in last year’s New Mexico Bowl, was expected to be the Wildcats No. 1 receiver heading into this season.
Hill’s injury and Slavin’s departure leave the Wildcats without three of their top pass-catchers from a year ago. Dan Buckner, who caught 61 passes for 773 yards last season, graduated and signed with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent. Wide receivers Jarrell Bennett and Sean Willet and tight end Michael Cooper also left the team since last season.
Things got a little better when the NCAA announced that Terrence Miller would be granted an extra year of eligibility after missing the majority of last season due to injury. He will play wide receiver and tight end this season. Johnny Jackson, Garic Wharton and Richard Morrison also return this season. David Richards, who showed promise last season, will miss the early part of the season due to injury.
Roster turnover has left a group of true and redshirt freshmen the opportunity to play in the early part of the season. The Wildcats will mix and match from a group of Clive Georges, Trey Griffey, Nate Phillips and Samajie Grant to fill the void at receiver.
The Wildcats also hope that Davonte’ Neal, who transferred from Notre Dame in April, will be granted a hardship waiver that will allow him to play immediately. Neal would have an immediate impact in the passing and return games.
A mixture of a new quarterback and young receivers likely means that the Wildcats will rely more on the run game this season than in years’ past.
Topics: 2013 Football Position Previews, Arizona Wildcats, Austin Hill, Clive Georges, Dan Buckner, David Richards, Davonte' Neal, Follow, Garic Wharton, Index, Jarrell Bennett, Johnny Jackson, Michael Cooper, Nate Phillips, Rich Rodriguez, Richard Morrison, Samajie Grant, Sean Willet, Terrence Miller, Trey Griffey, Tyler Slavin