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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Gronkowski returns, boosts UA’s offense”

    Rob Gronkowski
    Rob Gronkowski

    PASADENA, Calif. – He has been affectionately called “”Drago,”” “”Big Country,”” and “”Big Freak”” by his teammates, but when sophomore tight end Rob Gronkowski missed the first three weeks of Arizona’s season, he left a big gap in the Wildcats’ offense – and all he was called then was a huge loss.

    The Wildcats were certainly happy to have Gronkowski back in the lineup in their 31-10 victory over UCLA Saturday at the Rose Bowl, as the 6-foot-6 tight end made his presence felt in a big way.

    While Gronkowski caught only three passes for 32 yards, his first two receptions went for touchdowns – including a 22-yard touchdown strike caught from quarterback Willie Tuitama in the second quarter to give the Wildcats a permanent lead.

    “”I felt good,”” Gronkowski said. “”I was getting a little out of shape and a little dehydrated, but I drank a lot of water and it was great to be back.

    “”It couldn’t have been better,”” he added about his first performance of the year. “”I couldn’t ask for anything more.””

    What was first reported as strep throat keeping Gronkowski out turned out to be mononucleosis, the tight end confirmed after the game.

    “”It was mono,”” Gronkowski said. “”It was bad timing, but I did what I had to do, sat out for a while, got healthy and got back to do my thing. … I just had to drink a lot of water all the time, eat a lot, rest and get to sleep.

    “”I was trying to get back for New Mexico (last weekend),”” Gronkowski added. “”It went away before New Mexico, but I wasn’t ready conditioning-wise or strength-wise for that game, so it was a good decision. I am glad I am back and healthy, because health is first.””

    The Wildcats have never looked more in sync this year, barely a week after the offense struggled to move the ball and seemed to be infected by the turnover bug.

    The Arizona coaching staff was certainly happy to have Gronkowski back in the starting lineup, given his unique ability to run and block at a high level.

    Offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes, who said he thought Gronkowksi could catch 100 or more passes prior to the season, saw his offense respond to the tight end in the lineup.

    During practice this week, UA head coach Mike Stoops said he was excited with the re-emergence of Gronkowski into Arizona’s offense.

    “”Now that we have Robby back,”” Stoops said, “”we can move in a positive direction toward Washington.””

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