Feature: Arizona's All-America Cornerback to Take on New Role this Season

Aug. 28, 2007

By Mike Ritter
Arizona Daily Wildcat

August 28, 2007

Tucson, AZ (CSTV U-WIRE) -- Antoine Cason has made a name for himself making tackles. Now, he'll be the one getting tackled.

Arizona head coach Mike Stoops finalized his opening game depth chart yesterday, revealing no major surprises, except for the one that his star cornerback is the first name listed at punt returner.

Cason, a senior cornerback who previously was a backup returner, has been officially named the starter.

'It's been a long time,' Cason said. 'It's nothing new for me. The only thing new for me about this is that it's game time.'

Wide receiver Syndric Steptoe held the duties the last four seasons. Last year Steptoe, now on for the Cleveland Browns, averaged 13.1 yards on 20 punts, including one touchdown.

Cason has never officially returned a punt in a game.

'You can't argue with that because (Steptoe)'s been very productive,' Cason said. 'Now it's my turn to step up, and I'm here to step up.'

As for the new kickoff returner, cornerback Devin Ross has been named the starter. Wide receiver Mike Thomas will back up both Cason and Ross.

In the spring, the Wildcats also tried out Mike Turner, but Turner has since been switched to the offensive side of the ball as a receiver.

Cason is known for his versatility. In high school he played running back on top of his duties as a defensive back. He also ran track this past spring for strength and conditioning purposes.

'I hope he does well,' said linebacker Spencer Larsen. 'We just need someone out there that's going to catch it.

'He's really athletic. He can give us a good shot as long as we block well and give him some creases. All that depends on if we can get the stingers off of him. Any punt returner is as good as those guys on the edge.'

Road warriors

The Wildcats are set to kick off the season Saturday against Brigham Young, and the team has a reason for optimism that they can win on the road.

The team won its last three away games last season, including contests at then-No. 25 Washington State and Oregon.

'Our kids seem to really focus well on the road,' Stoops said. 'We're playing a team like this right off the bat because they get your full attention and our kids are well prepared. They're excited.

'There aren't as many distractions on the road,' Stoops added. 'I don't believe there's a better feeling than to beat a quality team on the road then get on a plane after the game and feel like you've done something pretty special. It's a unique feeling.'

In it for the long haul

Saturday's matchup against BYU marks the first game in a string of 10 consecutive weeks without a bye.

Stoops said that it's not a perfect scenario, and the team will have to guard against injuries.

'That's when you like having some time off in between weeks, so if you have a key guy nicked up you can get him back the following week,' he said.

'It's a long stretch.'

(C) 2007 Arizona Daily Wildcat via CSTV U-WIRE

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