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Countdown to the 2024 Arizona football season: 82 days until kickoff

To prepare for the upcoming Arizona football season, All Sports Tucson offers a countdown that includes historical notes and a season outlook – a great way to catch up on Arizona football during the summer months before fall camp in early August and kickoff against New Mexico on August 31st at the start of the Brent Brennan Epoch.

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A LOOK BACK – NO. 82 DISTRICT

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Since it is the 82nd day until kickoff between the Lobos and Wildcats, the best player No. 82 for Arizona is Wide Receiver Juron Crinerwho played for the Wildcats from 2008 to 2011. Criner, the top target of Nick Folesholds the school record with 32 career touchdowns. He shares the school single-season record with 11 touchdowns in 2010 and 2011. Criner's best season came as a junior in 2010, when he caught 82 passes for 1,233 yards despite going through many injury stints. He was named first-team All-Pac-10 that year and second-team All-American in 2010 by CBSSports.com and Sports Illustrated. Criner missed summer workouts before his senior season for unspecified medical and personal reasons and still had 75 catches for 956 yards despite missing some time due to an appendectomy early in the season and a lingering knee injury. He is fourth in Arizona in most passes caught (209) and most receiving yards (2,859). The Oakland Raiders drafted Criner in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He played two seasons with the Raiders before joining the New York Giants' practice squad in 2014 and 2015. He then moved to the CFL and played for Ottawa and Edmonton from 2016 to 2018. He caught seven passes for 177 yards in Ottawa's two playoff games en route to winning the 104th Grey Cup in 2016. Criner, 34, now trains in Raleigh, N.C. Two other notable players who wore No. 82 in Arizona: Tight end Ron Beyerthe program's first All-Pac-10 player and receiver Jay Dobynsan inspirational figure who became a federal agent and recently a local high school football coach.

No. 82 in 2024 – TE DORIAN THOMAS

Dorian Thomas

Thomas, who redshirted as a freshman last season, is 6-foot-5, 250 pounds and is a native of Kent, Washington. He stayed in Arizona despite being recruited by Washington out of high school by a former tight ends coach. Jordan Paopaowho went with Every fish to coach the Huskies after last season. A three-star prospect out of high school (247Sports), he was ranked as the No. 12 tight end in Washington and the No. 51 tight end overall. Had offers from Washington, Oregon State, Arizona State, Florida Atlantic, Nevada and Washington State.

NOTE

Despite all the distractions the NIL and transfer portal can bring to a program, Arizona's players get the job done in the classroom, posting the highest team GPA ever – 3.042 – during the spring semester.

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THEY SAID IT

“I really believe there's something special happening here. Even though there's a change in the coaching staff, nothing changes about the players, just the brotherhood and the love for each other. At the same time, you can have a lot of fun. Plus, people hold each other accountable. We definitely have integrity here. I'm just ready to win. I'm so excited to win.” — Arizona rookie receiver Brandon Phelps by ALA-Gilbert North.

CONSEQUENCES @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER!

Javier Morales, publisher, writer and editor of ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com, is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He was formerly a reporter for the Arizona Daily Star basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy's Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He is also the author of the book “The Highest Form of Living,” available on Amazon. He became an educator in 2016 and is currently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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