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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Jackson jumps into starting receiving rotation for Wildcats

Larry+Hogan+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AUA+vs+SCSU+on+Sept.+15%2C+2012
Larry Hogan / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA vs SCSU on Sept. 15, 2012

Johnny Jackson’s profile page on the Arizona Wildcats website is blank, aside from some general biographical information.

His nickname is Jumpin’ Johnny, in large part because of his short stature — he’s listed at 5-foot-10, and that’s being generous.

Two weeks ago, not many people outside of the Arizona locker room or media really knew who Jackson was — that is, until he went and caught 10 balls, nine in the first half, for 75 yards against Stanford in week six.

Jackson hurt his ankle against the Cardinal and his status for Saturday’s game against Washington is up in the air, but head coach Rich Rodriguez said that the redshirt freshman has earned significant playing time going forward.

“I don’t think we started with that four receiver set, but if we had he would have been the starter [against Stanford],” Rodriguez said. “We consider him a starter now. We probably should have played him more earlier because he had shown some things in practice. He showed a burst in practice, so I said, ‘We have to give him more of an opportunity,’ and he has made the most of it.”

Richard Morrison, who is third on the Wildcats with 23 receptions, had been the starter in the slot, but Jackson appears to have usurped that role whenever he returns from injury.

Fullback/defensive end Taimi Tutogi doesn’t anticipate Jackson staying off the field for too long, though. Against Stanford, Jackson missed the majority of the second half due to his injury, and Tutogi said Jackson was eager to return to play. Tutogi responded by preaching patience. That didn’t work.

“He made a comment like ‘Man I wanna play,’” Tutogi said. “I said you still got three years. He said ‘It doesn’t matter, I wanna play now.’ That just shows what kind of mindset and what kind of attitude he has … I don’t think any injury is going to be able to stop him just because of his drive.”

After his 10-reception performance against the Cardinal, Jackson jumped to fifth place on the Wildcats with 18 receptions, and sixth with 152 yards.

Due to Rodriguez’s policy on injured players Jackson won’t speak to the media this week, but in the spring Jackson told the Arizona Daily Wildcat that he can’t afford to ease up if he wants to play for a Division I football program.

“I feel like I have to work harder than everyone else, it keeps me hungry,” Jackson said. “I come out every day with a chip on my shoulder. I can’t ease up at all.”

Safety Jared Tevis and linebacker Sir Thomas Jackson both have made a name for themselves on defense, starting out as walk-ons and fighting their way into the Wildcats’ starting lineup.

Rodriguez has every intention of starting Jackson when he returns from injury, and receiver Austin Hill isn’t at all surprised that Jackson will likely join them in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future.

“I’m not surprised,” said Hill, who leads the Wildcats with 608 receiving yards and five touchdowns. “I knew when I met him that he was going to be a good player. Johnny works really hard, I know he’s fighting through injuries right now trying to get back on the field … but he’s always been working hard. He’s a great athlete.”

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