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Arizona football depth chart: Austin Hill's hurt, but some freshmen are ready to make an impact

Austin Hill tore his ACL in the spring, leaving a void at the top of the heap of Wildcat wideouts

Johnny Jackson looks to become a bigger part of the Arizona offense in 2013
Johnny Jackson looks to become a bigger part of the Arizona offense in 2013
Jason O. Watson

While the Austin Hill injury was most certainly a blow to the receiving corps, there are definitely some guys ready to fill in

Key Losses:

Austin Hill (torn ACL), Tyler Slavin (transferred)

Key Returners:

Garic Wharton, Johnny Jackson, Terrence Miller, hopefully David Richards (foot surgery)

Key Newcomers:

Nate Phillips, Samadjie Grant, Trey Griffey, Clive Georges, DaVonte' Neal (?)

All camp, Rich Rodriguez has been high on Nate Phillips and Samadjie Grant as true freshmen that will come in and make an impact on this team. Both guys are a little small (Phillips 5-7, 171 and Grant 5-9, 171) but they apparently will both be seeing a lot of time in the slot this season.

"I think I'm just learning the offense as quick as I can," said Phillips. "During the summer I really talked to Austin Hill and Terrence Miller a lot. Just about the different signals and play calls and route packages and things like that. When I'm on the field I talk a lot to Garic Wharton and Johnny Jackson when they're out there, asking them little questions on how to run routes, what the concept is."

In high school, Phillips used the wrist bands, so he's had to work on the signals for play calling the most instead of just reading the play off of his wrist. What's the one thing he needs to continue working on? "Reading defenses on the run."

"I've learned you have to be physical. You can't go up there and tiptoe. I think that's going to help me as a player to be more physical."

When he was being recruited to come to Arizona, one line still sticks out to Phillips. "They don't recruit guys to be backups here."

Samadjie Grant has been having a good time too. "At first it was difficult, but once I learned to read my playbook it got easier."

"As long as I'm open I'm good."

The one thing he needs to work on? "Blocking. I cross my feet a lot."

Grant said he's not really a turf guy though, "If our field was grass I would like it better."

Oh well.

One guy who does like the turf? Garic Wharton.

"When I was in high school, that's what we had so that's what I'm used to. I'm definitely comfortable on turf." He said he thinks it will help him in games.

Wharton came on late last year, having big games against ASU and Nevada. He attributes that success to a new-found confidence he got late in the year.

"I think early in the year I lacked confidence, but as the year progressed I gained confidence and I felt like I couldn't be stopped at the end."

Other guys who are back: Johnny Jackson, who caught 25 balls in 2012 for 187 yards. And of course Terrence Miller was granted a fifth-year of eligibility from the NCAA after appearing in only four games in 2012. Trevor Ermisch, who actually just received a scholarship on the 21st, will look to try and make an impact as well. He'll probably just be seen on special teams, but maybe he'll make a catch or two this year.

Anyways, as is the case with a lot of the positions, there is a lot more depth at WR this year as compared to last year. If the returners step up, and consistently catch balls and the freshmen live up to the hype, the loss of Austin Hill may not be so bad after all.