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Arizona Wildcats football notes: Hill cleared to practice

%09File+Photo+%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0A%09Austin+Hill+catches+the+ball+for+a+touchdown+in+the+2012+season+against+Toledo.

File Photo / The Daily Wildcat

Austin Hill catches the ball for a touchdown in the 2012 season against Toledo.

This week, doctors have cleared junior Arizona receiver Austin Hill to practice with the team.

Hill, who suffered an ACL tear in April during spring practice, was the Wildcats’ leading receiver last season. Hill caught 81 balls in 2012 for 1,364 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.

Following the injury, head coach Rich Rodriguez never announced a set date for Hill’s return. Rodriguez said in Monday’s press conference that there’s still no time table for Hill’s return and the final decision of when he plays is not up to him but instead team doctors and Hill himself.

“Depends on how he feels personally,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t make those decisions. The trainers and doctors do.”

Rodriguez said Hill is bigger, stronger, and faster. Even when Hill was healthy, Rodriguez couldn’t say if he would immediately be placed in the offense and expected to contribute.

When hearing of the news that Hill was cleared to practice, fellow receiver Terrence Miller said he was pleased.

“Austin is always a vocal guy in the room especially with the young guys and especially with how much they are playing,” Miller said. “He is very good at giving that post experience. He has been there before, and he has done some of the things the coaches ask of these guys to do. He has always been a help.”

Whether or not Hill would consider foregoing his senior year for the NFL draft is a conversation he and Rodriguez have not yet had either. However, Rodriguez said that if the junior wanted to file the papers to get a sense of where he would be drafted that it would be a good idea.

Hill, who redshirted his freshman season in 2010, is not eligible for a medical redshirt. Thus, he has only one more season of eligibility after this year.

“He’s one of the best in the league as far as catching the ball and understanding coverages,” Rodriguez said. “Austin has worked really hard and he looks great.”

Future Wildcats will be bigger, more dynamic

Following the Wildcats’ 31-26 loss to UCLA on Saturday, players and coaches admitted to being caught off guard by the Bruins’ offensive and defensive formations.

On multiple occasions UCLA’s offense featured a jumbo package that overpowered the Wildcats’ undersized defense and Rodriguez said the team isn’t where it needs to be in terms of talent and size.

Another unique difference the Bruins showed was playing offensive players on defense and vice versa. Rodriguez said that he and the coaches recruit players who they believe could potentially play on both sides of the ball. He added that in the coming years, Wildcat fans should expect the team to do that more often.

Rodriguez said freshmen, such as linebackers Scooby Wright and Derrick Turituri, are potential fullbacks. The reason they haven’t done it yet is because of the risk of overloading the young Wildcats.

“I thought we’d do some of it this year but we didn’t want to overload our freshman,” Rodriguez said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if several guys played a little bit of both ways within the next few years. We recruit with that in mind a little bit.”

—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella

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