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Arizona WR Austin Hill cleared to test knee in practice

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Arizona wide receiver Austin Hill — out since May as the result of surgery he had on a torn knee ligament suffered in spring ball — has been given the go-ahead by doctors to practice with the Wildcats, head coach Rich Rodriguez said on Monday.

“His doctor from back home cleared him to take that next step,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know what that means as far as availability of when he will play yet. He’s been out there running around with the trainers most of the time. Starting this week, he’ll be doing some with Coach (Tony) Dews.

Hill led Arizona with 81 catches for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns last season as a sophomore and has been sorely missed so far this year. However, it’s not clear when he’ll be able to contribute in a meaningful way for the Wildcats, who are 6-3 thus far. Still, Rodriguez seems visibly excited about the prospect.

“If he can come back at the end of this year or next year, you’re talking about a guy that’s one of the best in the league as far as catching the ball and understanding the coverages and where to go and ball skills,” Rodriguez said. “Austin has worked really, really hard and he looks great.

“Whenever we get him back, whenever that is, I think he’ll be an even better player.”

The Wildcats are currently led in receiving by a freshman, Nate Phillips, who has just 29 catches for 409 yards. Getting Hill back in time for him to play in big games against No. 6 Oregon and No. 21 Arizona State later in the month could be just what the Arizona offense needs.

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