A good 20 minutes after the Arizona Wildcats' practice Friday afternoon, receiver Dan Buckner, one of only four players still on the field, lined up around the 30-yard line with his long arms dangling to his side.

After hearing quarterback Nick Foles slap the ball, Buckner took off down the sideline, cut in, sprinting towards the middle of the field and snared a pass from Foles.

If Foles and Buckner have it their way, it's a connection that's just getting started.

Buckner is in his second year at UA after transferring from Texas. He had to sit out last year because of NCAA rules and practiced mainly with the scout team.

Cleared to play this upcoming season, Buckner, who who caught 49 passes for 529 yards and six touchdowns in his Longhorns career, is running with the first-team offense, opposite All-Pac-10 receiver Juron Criner.

"He's got all the skills you're looking for," coach Mike Stoops said. "He's got the size and speed and strength. He's got great timing on the football. He possesses a lot of the skills necessary to be a complete receiver."

The Star recently chatted with the 6-foot-4-inch, 208-pound junior from Allen, Texas.

What have the first couple practices of spring ball been like for you?

A: "It's a learning experience. I'm out there trying to get back in the groove. I'm going with the starters and it's a faster pace. The game has definitely picked up from the scout team. I'm just trying to get the hang of it, get my timing down, stay late after practice, whatever it takes."

Are you approaching practice this year any differently than last year, knowing you don't have to sit out anymore?

A: "In the back of my head I knew I wasn't going to play, so I may have been lax at times. I'm just trying to get my head right. When I'm tired and don't want to do it anymore, that's when I have to push. I've been waiting a year. It's my time, so I want to get ready to go."

Are you comfortable with the offense here?

A: "I picked up the offense pretty quick. I feel good about knowing the plays. Now, it's all about timing. I'm just trying to get my timing down with Foles."

Keola Antolin described you as a "character." Is that accurate?

A: "I'm a funny, outgoing guy and sometimes it gets me in trouble, but that's me. I like to laugh. I know we're here for a serious purpose, but football is a game and you have to have some fun."

Stoops a fan in Anaheim

Mike Stoops is the coach of the Arizona Wildcats, but he's also a fan. A big one.

So, when Stoops had the chance to go to Anaheim, Calif., to watch the UA basketball team play Duke in the Sweet 16, it was a no-brainer.

The coach, who has been at the UA since 2004, flew to California on Thursday and returned early Friday morning, back in plenty of time for his team's 4 p.m., practice.

"It was awesome," Stoops said. "It was a great game and a great atmosphere. I couldn't be happier for (coach) Sean (Miller) and his team. It's well deserved. They just out-toughed (Duke) for 40 minutes. That's what I told our players. It's about toughness, attitude and effort."

Stoops is hoping to get back to Anaheim for today's game against Connecticut. With a morning practice scheduled, Stoops would like to go.

"We'll see if I can catch a ride," he said.

The head coach isn't the only one on the football team excited about the basketball team's run.

Receiver Dan Buckner is good friends with Derrick Williams and was in touch with the UA star Friday.

"I sent him a video of his dunk," Buckner said laughing and demonstrating Williams' dunk. "I told him he put the whole team on his back. That's a lot of stress for him right now, playing in the Elite Eight in his hometown. I was just trying to make him laugh a little."

Daniel Berk