Picking top receivers in Arizona Wildcats Pac-10/12 years not easy



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The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 80 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.


“Money” Mike Thomas is a shoo-in, but picking Arizona’s other wide receiver spot in this site’s all-time team in the Pac-10/12 years is not simple.

Bobby Wade or Dennis Northcutt is the toughest choice. Juron Criner maybe? Brad Anderson and Derek Hill deserve consideration. And what about the tough-as-nails possession receivers like Jay Dobyns and Richard Dice?

The all-time teams in the conference are based on Pac-10/12 awards selections and career achievements. With that as the deciding factor, Wade and Northcutt are the top candidates for the other receiver spot.

Thomas, the Pac-12’s career reception leader with 259 from 2005-08, is an obvious choice. Thomas was selected co-Freshman of the Year in 2005, Arizona’s first offensive player to get a top honor in its history in the conference. He is the UA’s only two-time first-team selection at wide receiver. He earned that honor as a junior and senior in 2007 and 2008.

The debate between Wade and Northcutt comes down to the sustained success over a course of a career.

Bobby Wade is Arizona's career receiving yards leader

Bobby Wade is Arizona’s career receiving yards leader

Dennis Northcutt leads Arizona with 13 100-yard receiving games

Dennis Northcutt leads Arizona with 13 100-yard receiving games

Wade earned first-team honors as a senior in 2002 at a time when Arizona football was in the dark ages under John Mackovic. He was also an honorable-mention selection as a receiver in 2000 and 2001. He made first-team honors as a return specialist in 2000.

Northcutt was selected to the All-Pac-10 first team in 1999, a year before Wade joined the Wildcats. Northcutt was also an honorable-mention selection in 1998.

Wade gets the nod based on the two honorable-mention selections and his career marks are slightly better than those of Northcutt.

Wade holds the UA season record with 93 receptions in 2012. Northcutt is next with 88 in 1999.

Wade tops all UA receivers with 3,351 career yards. Northcutt is next at 3,252.

They both hold the school record of 42 consecutive games catching a pass.

Northcutt is the UA’s record-holder with 1,422 yards receiving in 1999. Wade is next with 1,389 in 2002. Northcutt also had 13 100-yard receiving games while Wade had 12.

Based on overall career totals and achievements, Thomas and Wade get the nod. Northcutt was so talented that he deserves a spot. He will get that as a return specialist (to be written about later).

Mike Thomas is in his fifth season in the NFL, now with the Detroit Lions after beginning his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars

Mike Thomas is in his fifth season in the NFL, now with the Detroit Lions after beginning his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars

Dick Tomey recruited and coached Northcutt and Wade. I remember sitting in the Desert Vista High School auditorium in Phoenix in 1999 when Wade announced that he chose Arizona over ASU and other schools. The place was packed. That was headline news, one of Tomey’s prized recruits.

Early in Wade’s career, Tomey was a bit peeved when a reporter asked him during a press conference to compare Wade with Northcutt. Northcutt preceded Wade as the UA’s top receiver.

“Let’s not make Bobby Wade into Dennis Northcutt – because he is not,” Tomey said. “(Wade’s) a good player, but he’s not trying to be Dennis Northcutt.”

Wade had no reason to be Northcutt. He was special in his own right.

Interesting to note that Thomas (5-8, 195), Wade (5-10, 186) and Northcutt (5-11, 182) were smaller receivers. That also allowed them to be efficient return specialists. Times have changed with taller receivers now becoming bigger targets for quick-read spread offenses.

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Damon Terrell

Damon Terrell

The best No. 80 to wear the uniform for Arizona? Anthony Gimino of TucsonCitizen.com goes with the sentimental choice of Damon Terrell, who was the namesake for the team’s MVP award from 1996 to 2003. He died in September 1995 following complications from a medical error. Entering the 1995 season, Terrell was slated to be the starting tight end, but he suffered an unexpected collapse during the start of training camp and his passing occurred shortly thereafter. “All of the players looked to him for inspiration and guidance and he quickly became one of the most popular members of the team,” Tomey said. “Damon’s love of the game was evident every time he took the field and his outstanding ability showed when he played.”

WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.


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