Buckner second on team in catches
“I didn’t sneak on the field,” Buckner said this week. “I will go out on a limb, though, and say I might not have been the best man for the job in that point in time. But I was called to go out there, and I did the best job I could.”
Coach Rich Rodriguez said: “In hindsight, he shouldn’t have been in there. We should have had someone in there who was 100 percent.”
Not that it mattered: the Wildcats’ attempt failed, and ASU won.
Fortunately for Buckner — an Allen native who began his career at the University of Texas — his final play at Arizona Stadium won’t be the lasting memory of a five-year, two-school college career. Buckner is expected to play when the Wildcats take on Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday.
Shoulder and ankle injuries suffered over the last six weeks should be healed by then, the 6-4, 215-pound senior said, at least enough to let him be productive.
The Wildcats (7-5) need him. Here’s why: ■ He’s productive. Buckner’s 59 catches are second on the team. No other receiver has more than 25 receptions. Buckner is also second in both yards (741) and touchdowns (five).
Buckner’s effectiveness takes some of the heat off leading receiver Austin Hill, Arizona’s budding star. With Buckner playing one of the two ■ When most of us last saw Dan Buckner, he was catching a 2-point pass from Garrett Gilbert in the fourth quarter of the 2009 national championship game, cutting Alabama’s lead to 24-21. ■ He transferred to Arizona in 2010, sat out a season, and has played the last two years as a Wildcat. ■ Buckner still wears the No. 4 jersey, the same number he wore as a Longhorn. ■ At Texas, he played in 25 games, including seven starts in the 2009 national championship game year. Buckner had 49 career catches for 529 yards and six touchdowns at Texas. ■ Buckner’s year-by-year: 2008 2009 2011 2012 Texas Texas Arizona Arizona outside receiver spots, Hill — a sophomore — can move inside to the slot, where he’s more effective. ■ He’s passionate. Buckner’s boisterous personality rubbed some teammates and coaches the wrong way when he transferred to from Texas two years ago. In time, 5 44 42 59 84 445 606 741 2 4 2 5 though, he has shown he’s much deeper than he seems. Over the past two seasons, Buckner has matured into an unlikely leader and ideal teammate.
“(Buckner) brings a great spirit. He always has,” said tailback Ka’Deem Carey, the Wild- cats’ best player. “I feel like I have to go out there and play for him. He brings a great mark to this team.” ■ He’s proud. Buckner has been impressed with his team’s 7-5 regular-season mark, even if three games — losses to Stanford, Oregon State and Arizona State — could have also gone the Wildcats’ way. Buckner, while still at Texas, played for the 2009 national championship against Alabama, but he saw no such success at Arizona.
Simply making the postseason after missing it a year ago is an accomplishment, he said.
“Some people didn’t think we were going to be able to win six, and here we are trying to win No. 8,” he said.
“We had our football banquet the other day. Holding back emotions the whole time. I was like, ‘Man, we’ve been through a lot.’”
Arizona receiver Dan Buckner tries to break free of a Stanford defender in a 54-48 loss to the Cardinal. The former Longhorn has 59 receptions this season.