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Wildcats Position by Position Breakdown: Tight Ends and Wide Receivers




                Arizona returns Rob Gronkowski who is one of the best tight ends in the nation.  His ability to catch the ball and create a big target, all while having the speed to make safeties cringe, enabled the Cats to strike vertically at times and have a huge target on check downs at others. Gronkowski caught 47 passes for 672 yards and hauled in a team high 10 touchdowns in 2008.  No doubt Gronkowski will be a huge factor in the passing game this year and could become the Cats’ possession receiver while our new quarterbacks get their feet wet.  The ability for a team to have a tight end catch mid level passes is crucial for Coach Dykes to work his offense and create man to man on our speedsters on the outside.


                Gronkowski will be backed up by sophomore A.J. Simmons, who had 2 catches for 11 yards last season.  Don’t get used to seeing too many backups out there for Gronkowski as the guy is a horse who can play every down of every game.  The Cats recruited some great young talent including Jack Baucus from Illinois who is a poster child for a tight end coming in at 6’6" and 250 lbs.  The Cats also added Daniel Jenkins’ teammate from high school, Terrence Miller who is 6’4" and 220 lbs. 

(Arizona's next big TE? I think so)



                The Cats lose one of their most prolific receivers in Arizona history with the departure of Mike Thomas.  Thomas caught 74 passes for 826 yards and 4 touchdowns.   He was Arizona’s vertical threat and was a major reason for the running game success as well as for Gronkowski’s mid range success.  Thomas was a master at finding the soft spot in the zone and for creating enough space on deep balls for Tuitama to thread the needle to him. 

(Who is going to step up in this man's place?)

                The Cats return  Delashaun Dean, Terrell Turner, Devin Veal, Chris Gronkowski, Juron Criner, William Wright, David Douglas, David Roberts, and Tyler Lyon last year’s squad.  Dean caught 53 passes for 593 yards and hauled in 4 touchdowns. Turner was his twin catching 43 passes for 580 yards and 1 touchdown.  Chris Gronkowski hauled in 4 touchdowns.  He only had 8 catches all season though meaning he was always in the right place at the right time.  Look for Turner and Dean to start at the speedster spots, with the Juron Criner and Devin Veal backing them up.  The Cats are loaded with returning wide receivers (sans Mike Thomas).  Whoever our QB is this year should have plenty of targets to hit.

(Dean has some big shoes to fill.)

            The Cats recruited lightly in the WR arena for 2009, adding Travis Cobb from North Carolina, and Dewayne Peace from Grand Prairie, Texas.  Look for Cobb, with legitimate 4.3 speed, to be an immediate player on kick off and punt returns.  if he can get the blocks, he will be gone in a heartbeat.  Peace may be standing in line this year, waiting for his chance to come.  Redshirt possibility?  I think so.