Cats Get Start on 2011 Class

Jan. 22, 2010

The Arizona football recruiting class of 2011 got off to an early start when noted Big 12 receiver Dan Buckner transferred for the spring term and is enrolling in classes this week.

Buckner, 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, caught 49 passes in his first two years at the University of Texas.

An Allen. Texas, High School product who earned a starting nod in the 2008 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, he played as a true freshman for the Longhorns in 2008 and started seven contests in 2009. He has 26 games' playing experience, with 526 receiving yards and six touchdown receptions.

Buckner will have to sit out the 2010 season and will have two years of eligibility beginning in 2011.

Meantime, UA's initial 2010 newcomers, mid-year junior college transfers Derek Earl and Paul Vassallo, both linebackers, are settling into the off-season conditioning program and readying for their first spring when both are expected to push for starting roles. UA lost all three starting linebackers to graduation - Xavier Kelley, Vuna Tuihalamaka and Sterling Lewis.

Earls and Vassallo signed letters of intent in the December signing period. UA will sign its full 2010 class Feb. 3.

'Derek and Paul should be key for us in 2010 as we transition under new defensive coordinators Tim Kish and Greg Brown. They appear to be physically ready for Pac-10 play and we'll get a quick look in spring ball,' said Coach Mike Stoops.

'Dan's a proven player who will help us, and we're glad to bring him into the program,' Stoops said. 'His championship experience is something we can count on.'

Derek Earls - Linebacker - 6-3, 230, Junior - Waconia, Minn. (North Dakota State College)

Enrolled at Arizona in January... First-team NJCAA honors as sophomore... First-team All-Midwestern Conference both years... SuperPrep Juco 100... Two-time MFC-West first-team all-region... 108 tackles, among Region 13 leaders, including 14 for losses, a sack and a forced fumble in 2009... 96 tackles as a junior, with 10 TFL and two sacks... Earned preseason All-American defense second team entering his final juco year... Minneapolis Star-Tribune All-Metro RB/LB as a Waconia High School senior... Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game June 2008... 2007 AP All-State second-team honors as running back... Recruited by UA coach Tim Kish...

Paul Vassallo - Linebacker - 6-3, 240, Junior - Reno, Nev. (Sierra Community College)

Enrolled at Arizona in January... SuperPrep Juco 100... JCFootball preseason juco All-America... Missed seven 2009 games after a concussion, playing in four games and netting 16 tackles... Began at Nevada redshirting as a true freshman in 2007 but transferred to Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif. .. Recorded 87 tackles and 14 1/2 sacks and forcing five fumbles in his first season in 2008, All-Valley Conference first-team honors and all-California juco honors... Had three-sack game to earn J.C.Gridwire northern California player of the week honor in Sept. 2008... Prepped at Bishop Manogue High School in Reno... Team captain senior year... Second-team all-state as linebacker... Caught 11 passes for 157 yards and two TD in 2006 as a tight end, with 72 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions... Son of Pamela and the late Ben Vassallo... Born in Reno... Recruited by coach Jeff Hammerschmidt...

Dan Bucker - Receiver - 6-4, 215, Junior - Allen, Texas (Allen/Texas)

Transfer from the University of Texas who enrolled in January 2010 and will have to sit out a season... Will compete in spring 2010 ball for the Cats... University of Texas letterman 2008-09... Appeared in 26 games at UT, catching 50 passes for 526 yards and six touchdowns in his career... Seven starts in 2009, with 45 grabs for 442 yards and four scores... Played in 12 games as true freshman in 2008, catching five passes for 84 yards and two scores... Enrolled at UT in January '08... Member of UT's Athletics Director's Honor Roll in spring 2009... Career high three times: 6-86 receiving and a career-long 36-yard TD at Wyoming, matched high with 6-75 and a TD vs. Texas Tech, and 6-71 vs UTEP with career-best two TDs... Allen, Texas, High School, 2008... First-team 5A all-state selection by The Associated Press and the Texas Sports Writers Association as a senior ... First-team All-District 9-5A and all-area ... Started in the 2008 U.S. Army All-America Bowl and tallied three catches for 28 yards, including a nine-yard TD ... First-team member of Dave Campbell's Super Team ... Three-year letterman and starter at wide receiver who helped his team to a 23-3 record over his last two seasons ... Posted 2,511 yards on 146 receptions (17.2 ypc) and 33 TDs during his career ... Helped lead the Allen Eagles to a 10-1 record and a second-straight district title by pulling in 53 receptions for 1,012 yards (19.1 ypc) and 17 TDs as a senior... .First-team all-district 9-5A and all-area honors as a junior ... had 72 catches for 1,154 yards (16.0 ypc) and 13 TDs, while helping his team to the district championship and a 13-2 season ... Second-team all-district as a sophomore ... recorded 21 receptions for 345 yards (16.4 ypc) and three TDs ... also participated in basketball as a freshman and sophomore...

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