Player profile: Garic Wharton

Wide receiver Garic Wharton's role should increase dramatically next season. Read on to see why that is, if he is prepared for it, and more.

When Rich Rodriguez was announced as the new head football coach of the Arizona Wildcats, everyone knew that plenty of change was coming to the football program. Previously controlled by a head coach whose pedigree comes from the defensive side of the ball, UA is now led by one of the smartest offensive minds in the nation.

It's not just his vast knowledge of offense, but also his ability to emphasize speed. When Rodriguez took the job, fans knew that there were certain players that would benefit significantly from the new coach's approach.

The player who could very well make the biggest leap under Rodriguez is wide receiver Garic Wharton. The sophomore hasn't produced much at the college level outside of being a part-time kick returner. He has yet to record a reception and has just one rush for 11 yards, but there is some buzz surrounding the speedy receiver.

If there is one thing that has been made clear about Wharton since his arrival, it's is the fact that he is extremely fast. He was one of the speediest players from the 2010 recruiting class and was a track star at Las Vegas Valley. With Rodriguez running the show, Wharton's speed should be utilized consistently throughout the season.

Rodriguez's history tends to show that he likes to utilize his running backs and quarterback in the running game more so than the wide receiver, but with Wharton's speed at the staff's disposal, you could see him used often in the rushing attack.

Wharton was utilized plenty in the spring session. He lined up both inside and out. He blew past defensive backs but also found ways to make plays underneath coverage and with his feet. He showed solid hands and looked to gain a pretty strong grasp of the offensive philosophy.

How hard Wharton battles and how quickly he picks up the new system and playbook will determine how much Wharton will impact the Wildcats in the 2012 campaign. He has very little experience on the football field at the college level, but his skill-set is very intriguing when you combine it with the spread offense that Rodriguez runs.

Summer workouts and fall camp are going to be very important for Wharton. Arizona still has plenty of receivers on the roster and Wharton is battling with them all for playing time. Given that these wideouts come from a different regime, it's a completely clean slate for the group. Wharton has shown plenty of promise as well as progress this offseason and if that continues, he could battle for a starting job.

That's where it can get interesting for Wharton in this offense. If he works his way into the starting lineup, he has the opportunity to have a big year with the physical tools he brings to the table. Rodriguez always figures out how to get his playmakers involved in the offense and that's what Wharton can do with the ball in his hands – make plays.

It's difficult to predict what kind of season a player with virtually no experience can have in the Pac-12, but Wharton is one of those young prospects that seems to be a perfect fit for Rodriguez's offensive approach. Pushing his way to the front of the receiver rotation could be beneficial to not only Wharton himself, but the rest of the offense.

If he does just that, it means Rodriguez has figured out how to take advantage of his skills on the field and should factor in to the offense significantly.

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