It's far too soon to panic, but Arizona could be staring down the barrel of a major, major blow to its 2011 hopes.
That's if you listen to Arizona Daily Star columnist Greg Hansen, who dropped this little bombshell into a piece about Canyon Del Oro High School's Pac-12 recruits (emphasis added):
[Wildcat running back signee Ka'Deem] 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.To reiterate how big a deal this might be (and how surprised we are to see a lead like this buried), Criner isn't just your average All-Pac-12 wideout, if there are such things. We're talking about the nation's seventh-leading receiver a year ago with 1,244 yards, a CBSSports.com second-team All-American, a first-round lock in next year's NFL Draft and the Wildcats' leading receiver a year ago by more than 30 receptions and 700 yards.
If Criner really does miss the entire 2011 season, this is a hammer blow for a team that's already struggling mightily with injuries. (How mightily? Try four different ACL tears.)
As for the likelihood of that scenario, as we said, the time for the wailing and gnashing of teeth from Wildcat fans isn't at hand just yet. But it doesn't look good. The Mercury News's Jon Wilner reports (in response to Hansen) that Criner withdrew from a recent ESPN "publicity tour" over what was termed a "family matter." He added this:
I heard last night that it’s not an injury, but it’s serious.If it is, so are the offensive issues suddenly confronting Mike Stoops' football team.