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CATCH UP ON THE COUNTDOWN BY VISITING: ARIZONA’S TOP 100 INDIVIDUAL RECORDS
Only 84 days separate us from the start of Rich Rodriguez’s fifth season at Arizona, when the Wildcats play Brigham Young on Sept. 3 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
As is customary on this Web site, we will count down the days with an interesting element associated with each day. This year the topic is the top 100 individual records in Arizona’s storied football past.
Compiling the list was no easy task, but it was feasible to do with the information provided in the record books by the Arizona media relations department, and we appreciate that.
No other tight end in Arizona history comes close to the production of Rob Gronkowski in 2008.
In past years, we have counted down the top games and highlighted players and some of the top plays in Wildcat history. A couple of years ago in our top 100 countdown, we showcased the 1914 team that was responsible for Arizona becoming the “Wildcats”.
Back to this year’s countdown of the top 100 individual records in the 117 years of Arizona football:
Single-Season Tight Ends Receiving: 47, Rob Gronkowski, 2008 (672 yards)
NCAA record: 111, James Casey, Rice, 2008 (1,329 yards)
Rob Gronkowski’s 47 catches as a tight end in 2008 topped the previous mark of 32 established by Mark Keel in 1982.
Gronkowski was already featured in this countdown, at No. 93 with the most career receptions by a tight end at Arizona. He lands at this spot, No. 84, with the season mark of 47 in 2008, his sophomore season.
Interesting to note that same year Rice’s James Casey set the NCAA record with 111 receptions by a tight end. Gronkowski has gone on to become one of the best tight ends in NFL history. Casey’s seven-year NFL career is over and he is now the offensive analyst for the University of Houston’s program.
Gronkowski’s 2008 production was reflective of how Arizona’s passing game was undergoing a rebirth under offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. Mike Thomas led the Wildcats with 74 receptions for 825 yards and Delashaun Dean was next at 53 for 593 yards.
Another interesting fact: Gronkowski’s 14.3 yards per reception average in 2008 was better than that of Thomas (11.1) although Thomas was considered a big-play receiver and Gronkowski’s position is more known for short routes.
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona 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 has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.