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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Baxter undergoes season-ending knee surgery

The 27 days between Arizona’s loss to ASU and the Valero Alamo Bowl are geared toward mending ailments and injuries. But the long layover between games hurt Wildcats center Colin Baxter, who underwent surgery on Thursday to mend a torn meniscus in his right knee, ending his Arizona career.

“”Colin had surgery yesterday and won’t be available for the bowl game,”” said Arizona head coach Mike Stoops today. “”It’s just too hard extending this month. This is something that he’s prolonged and agonized over the last few weeks and just thought it was the best time to get it fixed.””

Baxter, a co-captain for the second season in a row, sustained the injury against UCLA on Oct. 30, but played the next four games in agony, pushing his streak of consecutive starts to 48 games.  Agonizing through almost a month of practices, however, was simply unrealistic for Baxter, who will return to practice as a spectator on Saturday and still travel to San Antonio, Tex., for Arizona’s Dec. 29 game against Oklahoma State.

The 6-foot-4, 295-pound center was Arizona’s ironman, never missing a practice in his career before the injury and playing in his first 49 career games.

“”Colin is one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met,”” said sophomore center Kyle Quinn, who will start in Baxter’s place. “”When he told me about how bad his knee was I couldn’t believe it. I was taken back about how serious. But he’s a tough guy. When Colin was playing through the pain it didn’t surprise me one but. He’s just that type of guy.””

Baxter, who was named second-team All-Pac-10 earlier in the week, will now pass the torch to Quinn, who called him “”one of the best centers to ever play (at Arizona).””

Stoops’ phone blowing up

Arizona will be playing its upcoming bowl game without two assistants that were an integral part of the Wildcats’ 2010 success. Co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown and defensive line coach Mike Tuiasosopo signed onto the University of Colorado coaching staff earlier this week.

Stoops was “”certainly disappointed”” with the departure of his coaches, but wished Brown and Tuiasosopo the best of luck.

“”(Tuiasosopo has) been here seven years and did a lot of great things for us and we’ll miss him,”” Stoops said. “”Greg has always had a special attachment to Colorado and it’s a promotion from what I understand and certainly we wish them well. We’ll be rivals now but that’s ok. I’m happy that they feel like that’s a better position. You got to do what you got to do in this business.””

Although Stoops did offer the coaches words of encouragement, he didn’t dwell on the losses and seemed extremely confident in his ability to find coaches of the same caliber.  

“”It’s never been a problem finding coaches. My phone is absolutely blown up over the last week,”” Stoops said. “”We’ve always replaced other great coaches with great coaches so again, there’s no shortage of great coaches out there I promise you.””

Stoops said he will conduct interviews this weekend and next weekend to fill the positions, but didn’t name any possible candidates. He also said they would like to “”have somebody in place”” by Dec. 29 but they aren’t going to rush.

For the time being Stoops, a former safety and longtime defensive backs coach, is “”coming out of retirement”” to take over Brown’s duties with the secondary.

But Stoops isn’t alone coaching the secondary. Ryan Walters, a graduate assistant and 33-game starter at Colorado under coach Brown, will see an increased role with the defensive backs.

“”Ryan’s done a great job of supporting Greg (Brown) and our defensive backs so Ryan’s very aware of what we’re doing and he’s a very talented young coach,”” Stoops said.

Former Arizona defensive tackle and 2009 graduate Donald Horton will also help out with the defense while the Wildcats search for coaching replacements.

Criner named second-team All-American by CBSsports

Junior wide receiver Juron Criner can add another accolade to his football resumé. Less than a week after earning unanimous first-team All-Pac-10 honors, Criner was tabbed a second-team All-American by CBSSports.com today.

Criner, who led the Pac-10 with 73 receptions and 1,186 receiving yards, was one of six conference players to be named to the list.

“”I just feel like all my work paid off and for me to finally get a little bit of recognition, it feels nice,”” Criner said. “”That’s good news.””

Oklahoma State receiver and winner of the Biletnikoff Award (given to the nations’ top receiver), Justin Blackmon, was dubbed a first-team All-American by CBSSports.com.

Criner said he doesn’t know too much about Blackmon other than his stats, but still believes he’s the better receiver.

“”Obviously I’m going to say me,”” he said when asked who’s a better receiver.

Criner’s breakout season could vault him up draft boards, which begs the question: will he return to Arizona for his senior season?

“”No telling,”” Criner said. “”Just got to make it through the rest of the season and then see what the future holds.””

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