TUCSON, Ariz. — Garic Wharton swears he's a football player who happens to run for the track team.
Some might think otherwise. YouTube videos of Wharton blowing a supposed-to-be-somewhat-objective track announcer away by running a 21.05 second, 200 meter dash into a headwind of 0.8 seconds will do that.
But don't tell him. During last Saturday's Arizona football spring scrimmage, Wharton showed off his speed in his kick return duties and even caught three passes for 30 yards. Even when he made mistakes, his speed more than made up for it.
"I was real nervous," Wharton said after the spring game. "That first kick return, I was supposed to run right and I ran left. I don't know what happened, I just went blank. And my speed, it turned out good because I was fast enough to get around the corner."
Wharton brought two kick returns from within the 5-yard line past the 40-yard line Saturday, making the case that head coach Mike Stoops will lock him into return duties at the very least.
His development as a wide receiver is just icing on the cake. Wharton could be the likely replacement for Bug Wright, who left the team over the offseason. In that slot receiver spot, the speed burner from Nevada could act as former Wildcat Mike Thomas, the Pacific 10 Conference all-time receptions record.
Despite being listed at a slim 168 pounds, Wharton is confident he'll bring an extra little something to the table for Arizona.
"It's not as bad as it looks," he said. "I'm skinny, but I've always been this skinny. I got to this point being this skinny. I'm going to continue to excel and do what I do."
And while he seemed to dismiss the fact that he was at one point the third-fastest 200 meter track athlete in the entire country, Wharton can use his track background to help him on the field.
"When you get around the corner, it's the point of lift your knees and stuff, keep you arms pumping," he said. "That's just what track taught me, it just correlates all together in the open field."
So can anybody on the team catch him? At least, can anybody get close?
"I can beat everybody on this team in a race," Wharton said. "I feel like (wide receiver) Dan Buckner, he's a lot faster than he looks, but he's fast. (Juron Criner), we was racing in the locker room in the spring.
"It was pretty close, but you know, I always come out on top."