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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats receiver Garic Wharton emerges against Washington

Tyler Besh /  Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA Football vs Washington
Tyler Besh
Tyler Besh / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Football vs Washington

Austin Hill and Dan Buckner have been the two most consistent receivers for Arizona so far this season.

Outside of them, in a pass-heavy offense quarterback Matt Scott has been featuring a new receiver almost every week, leading to breakout performances from a number of unheralded receivers.

Johnny Jackson, Tyler Slavin and David Richards have all had big games at various points in this season.

Against Washington, it was Garic Wharton’s turn.

The sophomore speedster from Las Vegas started for the Wildcats in the slot in Saturday’s 52-17 win against Washington in place of the injured Jackson.

Before that, Wharton had strictly been a kick returner and his career as a receiver consisted of one catch for six yards against lowly South Carolina State.

Against Washington, Wharton’s speed was on display, catching a 33-yard pass from Scott, although he ran the wrong route.

“The one route that he scored on wasn’t run the way it was supposed to, but I didn’t yell too much because he scored,” Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He was supposed to do a different technique, but Matt saw it and Garic is pretty fast, so it worked out pretty well.”

Wharton, who finished with three receptions for 59 yards and the score, ran the wrong route because he was playing out of position, filling in for Jackson as an inside receiver.

“That’s why I ran the wrong route, because I really don’t even know the plays that well like the back of my hand,” Wharton said. “Basically, I got to the same spot, but I did it in a different way.”

As a kick returner as a redshirt freshman in 2011, Wharton played in 10 games and averaged 32.2 yards per return, for a total of 322 yards. But other than that, Wharton had been rarely used in a deep receiving group.

Jackson seemed to have taken junior punt returner Richard Morrison’s spot in the wide receiver rotation, and when Jackson returns from injury, there could be a logjam for playing time behind Austin Hill and Dan Buckner between Wharton, Jackson, Morrison and Slavin, who did not catch a pass Saturday night.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this moment, ever since I signed my letter of intent,” Wharton said. “It feels great to finally contribute. It feels like I’m warming up, like I’m just getting started.

“I feel like I played well enough to actually deserve my scholarship.”

Because Wharton has experienced most of his playing time on the practice field, he has had to adapt to playing outside and inside receiver, in case this exact scenario happens. Now that he has confidence and a real performance to sink his teeth into, Wharton and Scott said they don’t think this will be the last time you hear the name Garic Wharton.

“This is one of the first games he got a lot of playing time,” Scott said. “We know what he brings to the table. He’s a quick guy, real fast, and I expect him to play a lot more in the future.”

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