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Monday, April 18, 2011
Buckner makes Arizona even deeper at WR

By Ted Miller

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Nick Foles and Seth Littrell almost sound sympathetic. The Arizona quarterback and offensive coordinator realize that it's not easy for a secondary to match up with one Juron Criner. So it figures to be even more taxing to matchup with two.

Dan Bucker
Arizona has high expectations for receiver Dan Buckner, a transfer from the Texas Longhorns who sat out last season.
Criner, the Pac-10's best receiver in 2010, is 6-foot-4, 210 pounds. Texas transfer Dan Buckner is 6-4, 220. He caught 45 passes for 442 yards and four touchdowns in 2009 and ranked as the Longhorns' No. 3 receiver as a true sophomore.

Gifted with size and speed, both will present matchup problems. Secondaries that would prefer to double-cover Criner might find that Buckner has the ability to punish them for taking that approach.

"He's a hard matchup, I would think, for a lot of corners," Littrell said. "He's definitely a deep threat. If people want to play tight coverage on him, he's a matchup problem. If people want to matchup with Juron and try to bracket Juron, you're going to leave someone one-on-one. So pick your poison. If a team wants [to double Criner], I'm fine with that."

Then, when you toss in the Wildcats' other receivers -- David Douglas, David Roberts and Richard Morrison -- well, suffice it to say that more than a few defensive coordinators will be stressed in advance of facing the Wildcats' passing attack.

"We've got a great receiving corps. We don't have just one guy. We have several guys," Foles said. "If I were teams, I'd still try to bracket [Criner]. They probably will try to make us beat them elsewhere. But [bracketing Criner] is going to be tough to do with the receivers we have."

Buckner is the wild card. Though his performance fell off over the final half of the 2009 season, keep in mind that he was good enough to be a contributor to a team that played for the national title. He's not your typical transfer who arrives with only message-board fanfare and then turns out to be one of those "looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane" sorts.

Of course, there's a backstory. Buckner is in Tucson -- he sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules -- because he got into trouble at Texas. He was arrested in College Station, Texas in January of 2010 on charges of criminal trespassing and resisting arrest. The Arizona Daily Star, citing police reports, said Buckner "was visiting a female acquaintance in College Station, Texas, when a dispute broke out. Officers arrived on the scene, but couldn’t get him to leave."

"I got into some trouble and made some bad decisions like a lot of people do. I needed a change. I needed to get out of there," Buckner said. "I think it was a blessing in disguise. I feel like it humbled me. I've seen things in life that I may not have seen."

Buckner, described as "goofy" by Foles, doesn't seem like a bad seed. He's bright, outgoing and quick with a joke.

Still, Foles said meshing Buckner into what was already one of the nation's best receiving groups is still a work in progress.

"We're still working to get on the same page," Foles said.

When asked about complementing Criner, Buckner is quick to take on the role of No. 2: "Juron is getting me open," he said.

As for the transition from Texas and the Big 12 to Arizona and the Pac-12, Buckner, a native of Allen, Texas, seems to feel right at home.

"I like the West Coast," he said. "It's sunny and pretty and there are palm trees. It's a change, and at that point in my life I just needed a change."