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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Antolin earns accolade; Gronkowski back on field

    Arizona running back Keola Antolin tries to evade a tackle in the Wildcats 41-16 win over Toledo at Arizona Stadium on Saturday. Antolin was named the Pacific 10 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday for his performance against the Rockets.
    Arizona running back Keola Antolin tries to evade a tackle in the Wildcats’ 41-16 win over Toledo at Arizona Stadium on Saturday. Antolin was named the Pacific 10 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday for his performance against the Rockets.

    Football Notes

    Arizona starting running back Nic Grigsby may have provided the biggest impact on the Wildcats’ offense out of the backfield in Saturday’s 41-16 win over Toledo, but he wasn’t the only tailback to make a difference for the UA football team.

    Reserve running back Keola Antolin, who serves as a kickoff return man for the Wildcats, was named the Pacific 10 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week Monday for his performance against the Rockets.

    Antolin, a true freshman from Las Vegas, Nev., averaged 32.67 yards on three kickoff returns, including one that went for 41 yards. He had 98 total return yards on kickoffs in the game.

    UA head coach Mike Stoops has certainly been pleased with Antolin’s ability throughout camp, despite the fact that the running back stands just 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds. While Antolin rushed nine times for 22 yards against Toledo, his performances on special teams has stood out to Stoops.

    “”He’s got a very bright future and we are very pleased with his development,”” Stoops said of Antolin. “”I think he is a very talented player that can do a bunch of things. He is just so good and so reliable in so many situations for such a young player. That’s a good feeling to have.””

    While Antolin has found success early in his college career, the freshman certainly didn’t expect it.

    “”I don’t know (how I have had this much of an impact so fast),”” Antolin said. “”I just learn from the guys and they help me a lot. I am just trying to learn for the first year and get used to things and come out sophomore year, but I guess they want me to play and help the team out (this year).””While Antolin made an impact on the return game, he still has one major goal – to take a kickoff back the other way for a touchdown.

    After all, Arizona hasn’t had a player return a kickoff for a touchdown since Chris McAlister did it 1998 on the opening kickoff in the season-opener against Hawaii.

    “”I heard about that,”” Antolin said of Arizona’s drought in terms of taking a kickoff back for a score. “”Hopefully I will take one back this year. That definitely (gives me a goal).””

    In addition to ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter, Grigsby was also among the players nominated for the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week for his 135-yard, three-touchdown performance Saturday.

    Gronkowski back on field, Kelley hobbled by sprained ankle

    Arizona sophomore tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has missed Arizona’s first two games with strep throat, will slowly be worked back into the Wildcats’ practice routine, Stoops confirmed Monday.

    Gronkowski was out in shoulder pads, shorts, and a helmet with the rest of the team Monday.

    “”Rob will start some non-contact practice (Monday) and we will progress throughout the week and see where he is at,”” Stoops said. “”He would be questionable right now, or limited capacity. We aren’t going to go out there and play him 50 snaps right off the bat. We want to work him back in and see how he is feeling.””

    Stoops said he feels comfortable getting Gronkowski out at a slower pace, but will still rely on a doctor’s opinion before sending the tight end into live game action. Stoops said Gronkowski has only lost three pounds during the time he has been sick, falling to 257 pounds.

    “”It is a doctor’s (decision) and (Gronkowski’s decision) and how he feels,”” Stoops said. “”You have to get him back out there doing his routine into where he feels good about it. The pushing, the strength you need to play, you have to make sure all of that is in sync, and that is what we will attempt to do this week.””

    Prior to the season, the Arizona coaching staff had big expectations for the tight end. UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes said he feels the tight end could possibly haul in 100 passes on the year.

    While that will be a tough task for Gronkowski to reach, given he has missed two games already, the Wildcats are surely looking forward to getting the tight end back.

    “”He is eager to get back on but we have put this much time into rehabilitation him that you don’t want to step back,”” Stoop said. “”We have a long season and they are all important games. We want to be smart and make sure he is in a good place that we won’t revert back and then you lose him for another month and we are in another stage of the season. That would be catastrophic.””

    Gronkowski was not made available for comment following Arizona’s practice Monday.

    Also banged up is linebacker Xavier Kelley, who suffered from an ankle injury in the first half of Saturday’s game, forcing him to miss the remainder of the contest.

    “”Xavier has a sprained ankle so he will be limited for a couple days,”” Stoops said. “”We hope to get him back, we will see.””

    Stepping in his place was reserve linebacker Sterling Lewis, and he didn’t disappoint. Lewis recorded a team-high 12 tackles in Kelley’s absence, showing the Wildcats they have a viable option if Kelley is unable to go against New Mexico this Saturday.

    “”Obviously Sterling played an excellent football game,”” Stoops said. “”You could see his athleticism and his speed on the field, so Sterling will get the majority of the reps.””

    Terrell Reese suspended for at least two games

    Following Saturday’s game, Stoops announced starting wide receiver Terrell Reese is suspended indefinitely for receiving a DUI Friday evening.

    In Stoops’ press conference Monday, the head coach didn’t elaborate on how much time Reese will miss, but did announce he will be suspended for at least the next two games.

    “”He is suspended indefinitely,”” Stoops said. “”He’ll practice and we’ll put him down there on the scout team with us and when he recommits himself to this team then he’ll work his way back and when we feel he does the time, we’ll see.

    “”I am certainly disappointed in his actions, but we are still in the business to help people and hopefully he’ll learn a valuable lesson from this,”” Stoops added.

    Stoops also confirmed that Arizona defensive back Mike Turner will be suspended for the remainder of the season.

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