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Ailing mother likely led to Criner speculation

Juron Criner, Darian Hagan

After a month’s worth of speculation that Juron Criner could miss summer camp — or perhaps even the season — due to what was described in one report as “undisclosed medical reasons“, Arizona head coach Mike Stoops said last week that his all-conference wide receiver is “fine… ready to go” and that the football program “anticipates having Juron” for both camp and the season.

On Tuesday at the Pac-12′s media days, Stoops added a litle clarity to the situation by further expounding on what he said a week ago, that it was a situation involving a close family member which led to the rumors.

His mom has been really sick,” Stoops said according to the Tucson Citizen. “It really bothered him, so we just gave him time to go home and spend time with her.”

Criner recently returned to the school and has been participating in voluntary summer workouts.  Regardless of exactly why he was gone, his teammates are just glad to have him back.  While acknowledging his greatness as a player on the field, starting quarterback Nick Foles espoused the off-field greatness of his teammate as well.

“But what everybody doesn’t see is the off-the-field stuff you do in the weight room and the locker room,” Foles said. “And when we didn’t have him there, it just felt like you were missing your buddy. Just to have him there in workouts, it’s like having a family member back.

“Having him there just feels right. I don’t know how else to put it. I know he’s talented, but I care more about him as a person than a player.”

As good of a person as Criner is off the field, the Wildcats could surely use him on it as the senior was far and away UA’s leading receiver in 2010, posting 82 receptions for 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns during a season that ended with first-team All-Pac-10 honors.

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