Update (Thursday, 8:02 PST): Bruce Cooper of NBC's 12 News in Phoenix writes on his blog that Juron Criner does not have cancer, as some rumors suggested. He says that Criner was hospitalized after undergoing brain tests but he also has an ill family member.
Adding more concerns to the injury-depleted Wildcat roster, Arizona receiver Juron Criner could potentially miss next season due to an unknown serious medical condition, reported Greg Hansen at the Arizona Daily Star on Sunday
While reports don't know the severity of Criner's status, Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News tweeted Wednesday that it was a "serious situation," not an injury, which only makes one wonder if its a health issue at all. Wilner also reported that the receiver was scheduled to participate on an ESPN publicity tour but didn't go due to family issues.
Meanwhile, Hansen wrote that Criner's absence could be somewhat less of a loss to Arizona if incoming freshman Ka'Deem Carey produces off the bat. Writes Hansen:
Carey's availability somewhat offsets concerns that All-Pac-10 receiver Juron Criner might not be available for training camp in August. Criner's status for the 2011 season remains uncertain because of undisclosed medical reasons.
Who knows what the real deal is here, and who knows if the rumors are actually true. But if we assume the worst and Criner is lost for the season, the Wildcats have the depth, experience and talent to keep their heads easily above water in the receiver core. Criner, a potential All-American, was quarterback Nick Foles main target last season, despite a turf toe injury, yet Foles still was able to put up reasonable numbers in throwing elsewhere when Criner was really in bad shape.
Richard Morrison, Terrence Miller and David Douglas will likely see more balls their way -- and have more pressure on their shoulders -- if this turns out to be a serious possibility. Still, it's hard to explain losing 1,233 yards and 82 receptions and spread that amongst any one or multiple players. Criner and Foles were preseason candidates for the Pony Express Award, given to the best tandem or trio.
Will the Wildcats crumble under the weight of all these injuries and losses to their star players, as Wilner questions?