TUCSON--Wildcat junior cornerback Antoine Cason, a first-team All-Pac-10 performer in 2006 and a big key to UA's defensive resurgence the past three seasons, has decided to postpone his NFL future another year and remain in school for his senior season in 2007.
"I was very unsure the past three weeks, but what I've chosen to do, is come back to school, stay at the University of Arizona to play football my senior year," said Cason. "It feels really good to get the weight off my back with this decision. I feel this program is headed in the right direction and I want to be a part of that," he said.
"It was a decision made by me. I weighed the pros and cons. I'm happy to come back and play football. I always was taught patience, and I feel there are some goals I still want to achieve. Such as, the (Jim) Thorpe Award. That was a goal since high school, and I feel really strongly that if I play well and give it my shot, it's (out there)."
"There was a realization that if I played well at the combine, (NFL) teams could take me high (in the draft). You hear that, and it's convincing. But I waited patiently and weighed all my options to see what I really thought was best," Cason said. "Now I can graduate and be a part of a good thing. Nothing is guaranteed with the NFL and this program is shaping up -- and I want to be a part of that."
Arizona head coach Mike Stoops was happy with the news. "We're really excited. I wasn't for a minute yesterday, when he told
"It was a decision that Antoine had to make," Stoops said. "It says a lot about his character and his belief in his teammates, and the unfinished business here at the University of Arizona. That says a lot about him. His stock is going to go up and up and he has a chance to go into the season as the premier cornerback in the country."
"I was recruiting Antoine all through the holidays, to make sure he knew he was the No. 1 recruit," Stoops said.
|Defensive end Louis Holmes|
A third UA junior, Chris Henry, has declared for the draft and will not return for his senior year in 2007, he told UA sports information officials today. He is enrolled in spring classes and has not signed an agent, but has completed paperwork for the draft and expects to attend the NFL Combine in February, he said.
One of 11 national semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award last year, Cason has played nearly every defensive snap for the Wildcats during his three-year career. He finished the 2006 season third on the team with 62 total tackles, while also breaking up seven passes and picking off three others, including one for the go-ahead touchdown in Arizona's 24-20 upset win over No. 8 Cal in November. He was twice named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week, and became the first Wildcat in school history to be so honored in back-to-back weeks.
Since becoming a full-time starter for the Cats as a true freshman in 2004, Cason has racked up 182 tackles, 10 interceptions, 28 passes broken up and four fumbles forced.
Holmes finished his first season at UA after transferring from Scottsdale Community College with 36 total tackles and a team-leading four sacks.
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Notes... Stoops talked about two unfilled positions on the coaching staff, both on the offensive side. He's working to replace departed wide receivers coach Charlie Williams and running backs coach Kasey Dunn. Those two position coaches are needed, and there could be some shuffling among responsibilities on that side of the ball. Returning are tight ends coach Dana Dimel and offensive line coach Eric Wolford, plus new offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes... Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops was an interested observer at Cason's news conference. The return of arguably the top DB in the league should bolster his unit, which also returns mostly intact: safety Dominic Patrick, linebackers Spencer Larsen, Dane Krogstad and Ronnie Palmer; defensive tackles Yaniv Barnett and Lionel Dotson; and ends Holmes and Johnathan Turner. Departed safety Michael Johnson, off to the Shrine Game, leaves the lone hole to fill... Stoops said he felt Johnson and fellow all-star gamers Nick Folk (kicker) and Syndric Steptoe (receiver) each had talent to earn spots in the NFL Draft, but questioned whether Henry's decision to leave a year early boded well for his positioning in the June draft... Stoops said coaches signed mid-year junior college transfer Marquis Hundley to join the program, and that he was completing admission requirements to begin coursework and compete in spring ball... Spring practice is tentatively scheduled to start March 21, Stoops said...
Antoine Cason, 2007 Jim Thorpe Award Candidate