Dan Buckner was ready to start proving NFL scouts wrong.
Labeled as a "possession receiver," the Arizona Wildcats wideout was hoping to go to the NFL combine in Indianapolis last month and show scouts he has some speed to go with his steady hands.
There was one problem. Buckner was never invited.
"I was shocked I wasn't invited," Buckner said Wednesday. "They wanted to know how well I could run. What better way to show it than on a national stage?
"I was disappointed."
Buckner gets a second chance today.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 212-pound receiver is one of 17 former Wildcats slated to participate in the UA's pro day this morning at Kindall/Sancet Stadium. Scouts from all over the NFL will be there with their stopwatches and notebooks.
"At the end of the day, not getting invited gave me more time to work," said Buckner, who was selected to the East-West Shrine Game in January but didn't play after he injured an ankle. "My day is (today). I'm going to try to do my best."
Buckner, who transferred to Tucson from Texas after the 2009 season, is rated by CBSSports.com as the 41st-best receiver in the 2013 NFL draft. Thirty-three receivers were drafted in 2012. He finished his Arizona career with 1,379 receiving yards and seven touchdowns over two seasons.
"He's one of the most intelligent receivers I've ever coached," UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. "He learned all four positions in less than two months. I think that's a big value in the NFL.
"He's a big, strong guy with great hands."
The Star recently chatted with Buckner about preparing for the NFL draft and his final thoughts on his Wildcats career.
On how he's been preparing for the draft: "I've been training out in Miami with Pete Bommarito and Bommarito Performance Systems. I've gone back to square one and am just working on everything. It's a great place to train because there are players from all over the country - Notre Dame, Michigan, Syracuse - everywhere. Antoine Cason has worked out there."
On what the workouts are like: "It's Monday through Saturday. I wake up at 5:45 a.m., and I'm there by 6:30. Depending on the day, we do speed work in the morning and lift in the afternoon. On Tuesday and Thursday, we also do position work on the field. Saturday, we do a body lift and go to the beach sometimes. It's been a lot of fun. It's not as fast-paced as college. It's not like college where coaches are there to look after you. You're treated like a grown man."
On his plans after pro day: "I'll take a quick break probably for a few days and then start working out again. I'll hang out here and utilize our strength staff. And then eventually I'll head back to Texas and work out there for the draft."
On not putting too much pressure on himself at pro day: "You just have to relax and have fun. It's just a game. There is pressure to do well, but I wouldn't have made it this far if I didn't have the ability. The hard thing about pro day is it's so much quieter than the games. At the games, there are a bunch of people screaming at you, and I fed off that. It's going to be really quiet at pro day."
On his decision to transfer to Arizona: "I'm definitely happy with my decision to come here. I met some great people in football and outside football. Some of my best friends in life are from here. Now, has it been the most ideal? No. You don't go to a school to transfer. Then once you do, you lose your coach. It's been eye-opening, but also fun. I wouldn't change it for the world. I'm thankful for Tucson and Coach (Mike) Stoops for bringing me here and Coach Rodriguez and his staff for a great year."
Arizona pro day participants
• DE Dominique Austin
• K John Bonano
• WR Dan Buckner, right
• P Kyle Dugandzic
• C Kyle Quinn
• TE Drew Robinson
• QB Matt Scott
• RB Elliot Taylor
• FB Taimi Tutogi
• DL Christian Upshaw
• S Mark Watley
• OL Shane Zink
• WR Travis Cobb
• WR Gino Crump
• WR B.J. Dennard
• S Brandon Tatum
• K Alex Zendejas
• March 29: Scrimmage, 7 p.m. at Phoenix College
• April 13: Spring game, 1 p.m. at Kindall/Sancet Stadium
UA's season opener switched to Friday
The football season will start a day early for the Arizona Wildcats.
The UA announced Wednesday that its season opener against NAU, originally set for Saturday, Aug. 31, has been moved up one day to Friday, Aug. 30.
The game will start at 7 or 7:30 p.m. Television selection and the official start time will be announced by the Pac-12 in June.
It will be the first of six home games for the Wildcats in 2013. The others are: Texas-San Antonio (Sept. 14), Utah (Oct. 19), UCLA (Nov. 9), Washington State (Nov. 16) and Oregon (Nov. 23).
The last time the Wildcats opened against the Lumberjacks was in 2011. The UA won 41-10.
Contact reporter Daniel Berk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk.