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Arizona still searching for top receiving target halfway through season

arizona-wildcats-receivers-college-football-2019-wolma-peterson-berryhill-joiner-cunningham-casteel Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Wide receiver was one of the biggest question marks for the Arizona Wildcats entering the 2019 season. It’s no longer an uncertainty, but the punctuation still exists.

Out is ‘who will Arizona turn to for receiving production?’ In is ‘which Wildcat receiver will step up as the go-to guy?’

There’s also another question: does there need to be a No. 1 option?

Through six games, Arizona is about as diverse as you can get through the air. Eight players have at least 10 catches and 100 receiving yards, including two receivers, and nine Wildcats have at least one receiving touchdown. Yet none have more than junior Brian Casteel’s 22 receptions, while senior Cedric Peterson’s 270 yards are tops on the team, as are sophomore Stanley Berryhill III’s three TDs.

To put those numbers into perspective, Arizona’s 135 team receptions are 40th-most in the country, yet 93 of 130 FBS teams have at least one player with more catches that the Wildcats’ top producer. Their 1,800 passing yards rank 19th overall, yet Peterson’s individual output is tied for 194th nationally.

Is this really bad, though? The pass catchers made available to reporters on Tuesday didn’t think so.

“It works,” Peterson said of Arizona’s pass attack. “We have enough talent in the receiving corps for everybody to be that go-to guy, so at this point we don’t need that. As long as we’re open and we do what we need to do it’s fine.”

So far it looks like everyone knows how to get open. Six different receivers, as well as running back J.J. Taylor, have either been Arizona’s top pass catcher in a game or tied for the lead. Junior college transfer Tayvian Cunningham has done so three times, while Peterson, Casteel and redshirt freshman Jamarye Joiner have held or shared the single-game reception lead twice apiece.

Arizona already has 14 players with at least one catch, as many as it had all of 2017 and two fewer than last season.

“The more guys that can produce and the more guys Khalil (Tate) has to look to, that he can count on, is beneficial,” said junior tight end Bryce Wolma, who has only two receptions—both on jump passes—this season that have resulted in big gains. “It’s also beneficial when teams scout us, because teams can’t double a receiver because we’ll just go to (another) guy. I don’t really think that’s a negative thing.”