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April 28, 2012

Former Wildcats Criner, Wade drafted on final day



Juron Criner is headed to the Bay Area.

The Oakland Raiders selected the former Arizona wide receiver Saturday afternoon late in the fifth round with the 168th overall pick of the NFL draft.

Criner, who made 75 catches for 956 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, battled through a senior campaign that included personal strife, injuries and an appendectomy. His draft stock also slipped after the NFL Combine after he was projected as a second-to-third-round talent coming into the season.

At 6-3 and 224 pounds, Criner has the size, body control and hands to go with big-play potential.

Criner was the second Wildcat to be selected in the draft. Quarterback Nick Foles was taken Friday in the third round - No. 88 overall - by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Two rounds later and with the draft nearing its end, Trevin Wade was taken by the Cleveland Browns with the 245th overall selection.

An hour after he was drafted, Wade told GOAZCATS.com that the tag NFL cornerback in front of his name "sounds pretty good" but it has not fully set in yet.

"It's really exciting, just to know you're being drafted," Wade said about the thoughts that ran through his mind when he received the call from the Browns.

He was so excited, in fact, that he could not recall who from the organization was on the phone.

Wade's stock reportedly increased after the NFL Combine, but not enough to get him into the earlier rounds as originally speculated.

With the draft coming to a close, Wade said he received words of encouragement from his friend, free-agent and former California running back Justin Forsett, who also was drafted in the seventh round back in 2008 by the Seattle Seahawks.

"At first it was really tough," Wade said about the wait. "But [Forsett] just gave me a text message, telling me everything's OK.

"Things just happen, and you've just got to take it the way you get it and do the best you can."

The 5-11, 192-pound defensive back made 52 tackles last season, intercepted two passes and knocked down 13 more.

Wade, a native Texan who was back home with family, said he's has never been to Cleveland.

"I know it's cold," Wade said. "So it's a totally different climate from Arizona but that'll be OK."

Among the undrafted Wildcats, linebacker Paul Vassallo and receiver David Douglas told the Arizona Daily Wildcat via text message that they have signed with NFL teams.

Vassallo will stay in the state and join the Arizona Cardinals. Douglas reached an agreement with the New York Giants.

Safety Robert Golden announced on Twitter that he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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