7/30/2014

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Sports

Spring football practices turn painful for Pac-12 teams

PHOENIX (AP) - Coming off a stellar sophomore season, Arizona's Austin Hill was expected to become one of the nation's best receivers in 2013.

Instead, he may have to spend most, if not all of the season, on the sideline after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament in spring practice last week.

"It just makes me sick because he is such a great player," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez told reporters after the Wildcats' scrimmage last Saturday.

Rodriguez and the Wildcats aren't the only ones lamenting injured players.

Injuries hit teams across the Pac-12 in what became a spring of pain across the conference.

Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes sat out spring practices and may not be ready for fall workouts after suffering what coach David Shaw called a freak injury to his throwing arm during a workout. Colorado quarterback Jordan Webb tore his right ACL and is out for 2013.

USC receiver George Farmer also will redshirt the upcoming season after tearing the ACL and medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

"You really feel bad for him because it seems like something happens every time that he's starting to make a turn," USC coach Lane Kiffin said. "Unfortunately, this one is very serious."

Farmer had the most serious injury by a USC player, but wasn't the only Trojan to go down during spring.

Running back Silas Redd and safety Su'a Cravens both had surgery during spring to repair torn meniscus in their knees. Randall Telfer, Antwaun Woods, De'Von Flournoy and Jabari Ruffin also were out, leaving the Trojans with 20 players on the sideline and forcing Kiffin to prohibit tackling in the team's scrimmage to prevent more from being hurt.

"There just weren't enough bodies out there," Kiffin said.

Webb was Colorado's primary starter last season, throwing for 1,434 yards and eight touchdowns with eight interceptions. He redshirted as a freshman in 2009 after tearing an abdominal muscle and now will request a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA after tearing up his knee while making a cut in practice.

"This is very sad for Jordan," new Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said. "We all feel for him. He was doing well in practice, competing again for the starting job and for this to happen and to lose him for the season is just a shame."

Arizona was hit hard by injuries during spring workouts, going into its final scrimmage with more than 20 players out. Among those were linebacker Marquis Flowers and defensive backs Shaquille Richardson and Jonathan McKnight, potential starters who sat out with shoulder injuries.

The most significant was to Hill.

He developed into one of the Pac-12's best receivers and Arizona's go-to guy last season, catching 81 passes for 1,364 yards - sixth nationally - and tied a school record with 11 receiving touchdowns.

Hill is the third prominent Arizona player in three years to tear his ACL in spring practice, joining Adam Hall (2011 and 2012) and Jake Fischer (2011).

"I don't know when his time frame is to return, but he'll be back bigger and stronger with the way technology is today and all that," Rodriguez said. "I really felt bad for him. I know Austin is a tough, strong guy and he'll bounce back."

Coaches across the conference are hoping for the same thing from their players after a painful spring.
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