When a player leaves a program, it sometimes makes an impact, and sometimes it hardly leaves a trace at all. The latter will likely be true of wide receiver Garic Wharton’s departure from the Arizona Wildcats.
Wharton has one season of eligibility left to do some damage if he decides to play elsewhere, but as far as the Wildcats are concerned, he won’t be making any contributions to them.
This isn’t heartbreaking because Wharton wasn’t the most productive receiver in the program. Last season, Wharton caught 17 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns. Four other players were targeted more than Wharton last season, and of those four, two are returning to the team in 2014.
Sophomores Nate Phillips and Samajie Grant will surely lead the receiving group for the Wildcats in 2014, making Wharton’s presence almost inconsequential. Phillips caught seven touchdowns last season, so with Wharton gone, he might even see more passes thrown his way. On the flip side, Wharton did distract defenders enough to allow Grant and Phillips to get open, but Arizona has 10 other receivers listed on this year’s roster. Counting Khari McGee, who is classified as a quarterback/wide receiver, the team has 11 plus Grant and Phillips, so one of those players must be good enough to replace Wharton.
Beyond that though, the Wildcats have a much more important problem to address than Wharton leaving the program. B.J. Denker, the starting quarterback in 2013, is gone along with leading rusher Ka’Deem Carey. Denker threw for 16 touchdowns and added 13 more on the ground, while Carey ran for 19 scores and caught one touchdown pass in 2013.
Those two alone scored far more than the rest of the offensive players combined, meaning that the real hole for the Wildcats' offense is at the quarterback and running back position.
With this in mind, the most damage Wharton could do to the Wildcats would be to transfer to another Pac-12 school for his final year. He could give a conference opponent insight on the Wildcats’ schemes, especially because he has played for Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez for the past two years.
Wherever Wharton ends up, he will probably serve as a No. 2 or a No. 3 receiver, similar to the role he played during his time at Arizona. Perhaps he will experience a phenomenal year on a different team, but unless he plays for a team on the Wildcats’ 2014 schedule, his departure will barely affect an offense that is already suffering.