Dec. 18, 2009
TUCSON - Antoine Cason, the 2007 Jim Thorpe Award winner, and three current Arizona defensive players received recognition for their past and present performances by two national media publications on Thursday.
Cason, who starred at Arizona from 2004-07 before being drafted in the first round of the National Football League Draft by the San Diego Chargers, was named to the All-Decade team by SI.com. The team features only 11 defensive players, 11 offensive players and specialists that were selected by the outlet from schools across the country.
A four-year starter under head coach Mike Stoops, Cason recorded 183 tackles in his career to go along with 15 interceptions, which ranks as the fourth-most in a career at the school. His interceptions resulted in a school record 349 return yards and three touchdowns, one shy of the program record.
Cason also starred as a punt returner in his senior season in 2007, returning two for touchdowns, in a season that he was named to the Pacific-10 All-Conference First Team for the second consecutive season. He was named to All-Conference teams in each of his four seasons and became the Wildcats' first consensus All-American in eight years.
Interestingly, three other players on the All-Decade team had ties to UA coaches. Mike Stoops coached defensive tackle Tommie Harris and defensive back Derrick Strait while serving as the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma. Mark Stoops, who has served as the defensive coordinator at Arizona since 2004, coached defensive back Ed Reed while he worked as the defensive backs coach at Miami.
A trio of current Wildcats earned recognition by Sporting News as first team All-Pac-10 players. Defensive end Ricky Elmore, defensive tackle Earl Mitchell and cornerback Trevin Wade were each named by the publication to the conference list on defense.
All three players have been critical to the success of the Arizona defense in 2009, which ranks No. 21 in the nation in total defense. Elmore led the conference with 10.5 sacks, while Wade checked in second with five interceptions. Mitchell became a stalwart on the interior of UA's defensive line, recording a team-best 12.5 tackles for loss.
Arizona returned to practice on Thursday evening and will continue working out in Tucson over the weekend. The team departs for the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl in San Diego, Calif., on December 23.