TUCSON, Ariz. -- There could be help at the wide receiver spot for Arizona beginning this week. Arizona junior wide receiver Austin Hill has been cleared to practice, UA coach Rich Rodriguez said Monday.
Hill led the Wildcats last season 81 catches for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns but tore his ACL in spring practice.
"His doctor from back home cleared him to take that next step," Rodriguez said. "I dont know what that means as far as his availability or when he will play yet. Hes been out there running around with the trainers most of the time. Starting this week, hell be doing some stuff with Coach (Tony) Dews.
"Thats good to see."
He added that being cleared to practice is different than being cleared for a game.
Arizona (6-3) has three regular-season games remaining, starting with Saturday's home game against Washington State.
"I don't make those decisions, trainers and doctors," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez also made it clear he's in the early stages of getting the news out and is not sure what the next step would be, but if Hill "thought he was ready mentally," he would play.
"He is a sharp guy," Rodriguez added.
He's also a needed guy.
His absense has left the Wildcats with a young, inexperienced group of wide receivers. Freshmen Nate Phillips and Samajie Grant are the teams leading receivers. Sophomore David Richards, junior Garic Wharton and senior Terrence Miller are also part of the group.
In August, in an interview the FoxsportsArizona.com, Hill said he was "50-50" on returning this season.
"Coming back too early could screw up my career," Hill said then. "Im just trying to be smart with it."
Realistically, Hill has three options to play in the future after sitting out his freshman year as a redshirt. He can play this year and declare for the National Football League; return next season for his senior year; or just sit out the season. Rodriguez said he has yet to discuss Hill's future beyond this year.
"If he can come back this year or come back next year, youre talking about a guy thats one of the best in the league as far as catching the ball and understanding the coverages and where to go and ball skills," Rodriguez said. "We talked about it before -- using this year to get better. Austin has worked really, really hard. He looks great.
"Whenever we get him back, whenever that is, I think hell be an even better player."