ARIZONA FOOTBALL

Gronkowski's aim: Run fast

Tight end needs good 40 time to wow NFL scouts
2010-03-27T00:00:00Z Gronkowski's aim: Run fastRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 27, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Rob Gronkowski spent the last week in a self-imposed state of distraction.

He hung out with friends, watched movies, worked out and got caught up in March Madness - albeit a week late.

"All of a sudden, the (NCAA) tournament came," he said. "I liked Syracuse."

The Arizona Wildcats' tight end did everything he could to avoid acknowledging one fact: His pro timing day, held this morning on the UA campus, is crucial to his NFL future.

Gronkowski will lift weights, run a 40-yard dash and catch passes in front of NFL scouts with hopes of showing that he's first-round material.

He certainly has the résumé.

The 6-foot-6-inch, 265-pound tight end caught 75 passes for 1,197 yards and 16 touchdowns in his first two college seasons. Gronkowski was expected to be the focus of Arizona's offense last fall, but did not play a snap because of a back injury.

Dr. Robert G. Watkins III of the Marina Spine Center performed a 3 1/2-hour microdiscectomy on Gronkowski on Sept. 24, removing a small portion of his spine to relieve pressure on his sciatic nerve.

Gronkowski's injury didn't prevent him from declaring for the NFL draft in December. The tight end is confident he'll be taken in the first round - but has heard different scenarios.

"I'm hearing many different things, but I'm not really concentrating on that right now," he said. "It doesn't matter where I'm going, or when I'm going, right now. It's all how I do Saturday. And when it all comes down Saturday, I hope I do well."

All eyes will be on Gronkowski's 40 time. The Wildcats tight end did not run for scouts at last month's NFL combine or at Arizona's pro day two weeks ago.

Gronkowski's time is anyone's guess - even his.

"I'll tell you after pro day what I was gunning for," he said.

Foles hurts ankle

Quarterback Nick Foles is expected to take part in today's scrimmage despite suffering a sprained right ankle.

Foles injured his ankle in practice earlier this week; he spent part of Friday's drills on the sideline, an ice pack strapped to his leg.

"It's pretty sore," Foles said Friday. "Today's really been the worst day on it.

"I can't plant on my throws. I've got to really let it rest at night."

The Wildcats are expected to run about 100 plays inside Arizona Stadium this morning. Coach Mike Stoops said it'll be "just a normal scrimmage."

"To me, it's about getting some situational work out there on Saturdays, and getting our guys in some game situation," he said. "Same ol' stuff."

Stoops playing tennis

Stoops will play tennis Sunday for a cause.

The Wildcats coach is a part of the Gootter Grand Slam, a two-day charity event that begins today at Randolph Tennis Center.

Stoops will play in an exhibition with pros Mats Wilander and Mikael Pernfors Sunday at noon; Pernfors and Wilander will play each other at 1:30.

Stoops has been taking part in the Gootter event for years; proceeds benefit the Steven M. Gootter Foundation at the UA's Sarver Heart Center.

"It's an unbelievable organization," he said. "The cause is near to my heart - losing my father to a heart attack was traumatic to me because I was very young."

Can Stoops hang with the pros?

"We'll see," he said. "I was a little better last year at this time. I'm excited to get out there with those guys. The pros are pretty remarkable watching them play. Being a part of it is pretty neat."

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