Arizona football: Salpointe grad hopes to start

Jacob Arzouman, left, facing off with Beau Boyster in spring drills, moved to center after rehabbing his knee.

Dan Buckner liked the numbers, sure. But the letter was better.

The Arizona Wildcats senior wide receiver caught a game-high 10 passes for 116 yards in last weekend's 24-17 overtime win over Toledo. The performance might have been the highlight of Buckner's career, which began at the University of Texas in 2008: After all, it marked the first time he had caught more than six passes in a victory.

"The biggest thing is that we got the win," he said. "I mean, I had 10 catches - but what would 10 catches have done had we gotten the loss? Nothing.

"It's really all about contributing to the win. Ten catches look a lot better when you win the game, and at the end of the day, I'm happy we got the 'W.'"

Here are four things you need to know about the Arizona Wildcats' No. 4 as he prepares for Saturday's game against No. 18 Oklahoma State:

1. There's a place for him in Arizona's offense. Buckner, like many of the Wildcats' receivers, spent most of the offseason wondering how he would fit into coach Rich Rodriguez's run-first attack.

They shouldn't have worried: The UA attempted more passes (47) than runs (41) against Toledo. Buckner and fellow senior Terrence Miller combined to catch 16 of quarterback Matt Scott's 30 completed passes.

"Him and Terrence, a couple old men … I think their age was showing as the game wore on," Rodriguez said with a smile. "All the way to the end, they were fighting and scratching."

The Wildcats' passing numbers "showed that there's an opportunity for everybody to get the ball," Buckner said.

"There are a lot of balls to go around, and big plays to be made catching the ball as well as blocking," he said. "When we did block well, it led to big plays in the running game."

2. He comes from good football stock. Buckner's time at Texas has been well-documented since he arrived at the UA in January 2010 following two seasons with the Longhorns.

Before that, Buckner starred for one of the state's premier high school programs. Allen High School recently christened an 18,000-seat, $60 million home stadium.

Buckner checked in on Allen Eagle Stadium construction the last time he was home. And, no, the Wildcats wide receiver doesn't understand the fuss over the stadium's cost.

"I think people just don't understand it," he said. "First off, everything's bigger in Texas. When it comes to sports, it's like a religion down there. Whether it be the collegiate level, Pop Warner, middle school, high school, it's big and they love it."

3. He has a history with Oklahoma State. Saturday's showdown with the Cowboys will be Buckner's fifth in as many college seasons: His Texas teams played OSU in 2008 and 2009, winning both games. Buckner watched as a redshirt when the Wildcats lost to the Cowboys in the 2010 Alamo Bowl. He caught 10 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown in OSU's win over the UA last fall in Stillwater, Okla.

Though the game remains the most productive of Buckner's career, he said he remembers just one thing about it: "That we lost, and it wasn't close."

"I'm trying to come out with a 'W' and continue on down the road," he said.

4. He's trying to keep his cool. Arizona's players admittedly are taking the OSU game personally, both because of the recent losses and the Cowboys' reputation for trash-talking and showboating. Many still remember former OSU wide receiver Justin Blackmon's celebrations from the Alamo Bowl.

Buckner, however, said he doesn't really get flustered by teams that want to talk trash. At 22 years old, and as a fifth-year senior, the Cats' receiver seems too old to deal with such foolishness.

"I'm just a happy-go-lucky person," he said.

"When people talk trash, I laugh at them. What can you do when you're talking trash and somebody's laughing at you? Then you don't know really what to say. So I'm going to just have a smile on my face and try to play my game."

Up next

• Who: Oklahoma State at Arizona

• When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

• TV: Pac-12 Arizona

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Sp)