Arizona Football

2016 Arizona Wildcats football season countdown: No. 55 individual record

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CATCH UP ON THE COUNTDOWN BY VISITING: ARIZONA’S TOP 100 INDIVIDUAL RECORDS

Only 55 days separate us from the start of Rich Rodriguez’s fifth season, when the Arizona Wildcats football team plays Brigham Young on Sept. 3 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

As is customary on this Web site, we will count down the days with an interesting element associated with each day. This year the topic is the top 100 individual records in Arizona’s storied football past.

Compiling the list was no easy task, but it was feasible to do with the information provided in the record books by the Arizona media relations department, and we appreciate that.

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Juron Criner’s 32 career touchdown receptions top “T” Bell’s number by two (they are the only Arizona receivers with at least 30 career touchdown catches).

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In past years, we have counted down the top games and highlighted players and some of the top plays in Arizona Wildcats football history. A couple of years ago in our top 100 countdown, we showcased the 1914 team that was responsible for Arizona becoming the “Wildcats”.

Back to this year’s countdown of the top 100 individual records in the 117 years of Arizona football:

No. 55

Touchdown Passes Caught, Career: 32, Juron Criner, 2008-11 (209 receptions)

NCAA record: 60, Jarett Dillard, Rice, 2005-08 (292 receptions)

Juron Criner caught 22 of his Arizona-record 32 touchdown receptions in his junior and senior seasons of 2010 and 2011.

The fact that only two Arizona receivers — Juron Criner and Theopolis “T” Bell — have eclipsed 30 career touchdown receptions boils down to these factors.

— Arizona traditionally was not known for its passing offenses until late in the Mike Stoops era and now in the Rich Rodriguez years.

— Rodriguez’s read-option offense is also predicated on the quarterback distributing the ball to five receivers or more by average each game. Although Arizona may pass the ball quite a bit under Rodriguez, the tailback position is used frequently and the quarterback spreads the ball all over on quick reads. No feature receiver exists.

Last season, for example, four receivers combined for 20 touchdown catches with David Richards the leader with six although he had the least amount of receptions overall out of the group of Cayleb Jones, Johnny Jackson and Nate Phillips. Samajie Grant and Trey Griffey were also targets of quarterback Anu Solomon.

Criner’s 32 touchdown receptions, topping Bell’s 30, came as a result of Arizona’s “Air Raid” offense late in the Stoops years. It helped that Arizona’s most prolific quarterback, Nick Foles, played simultaneously with Criner in their careers.

Bell’s achievement is impressive inasmuch as Jim Young relied heavily on the running prowess of quarterback Bruce Hill and running backs Willie Hamilton, Jim Upchurch and Dave Randolph throughout most of Bell’s career.

ARIZONA CAREER TOUCHDOWN RECEPTIONS
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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