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Arizona football: DaVonte' Neal to remain Wildcats' primary punt returner, Tyrell Johnson likely to play more on offense

It was a rough day on punt return for Arizona against ASU, but nothing's changing for now

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There were a lot of ways that the Arizona Wildcats looked great against Arizona State last Friday. But there was definitely one area where things did not go well.

Punt return.

DaVonte' Neal muffed one punt at the end of the first half, which allowed the Sun Devils to score a touchdown three plays later to go into the locker room tied at 21. There was another moment where the ASU punt was rolling down the field, and for some reason, Neal went over and jumped on the ball, causing unnecessary stress on a punt that had nothing to gain.

But Rich Rodriguez said that there will not be a change this week at punt returner.

"The one was a tough kick," coach explained. "And we always tell him 'Don't try to make the miraculous catch'. And DaVonte's so competitive he feels he can make any catch. He'll learn from that because he's been really solid all year. He's still going to be our main returner, but we've got a bigger pool of that than we've had before."

One guy that's in that pool and is looking to get more playing time is true freshman Tyrell Johnson. With Samajie Grant not starting vs. Oregon due to being cited for DUI this weekend, Johnson will likely get his chances at wide receiver as well as kick return, and maybe even running back?

"He probably needs to be playing more anyway," Rodriguez said of the freshman. "He's the fastest guy on the team. We probably need to find ways to get him more involved anyway. In the return game, he's been close a couple times, but also offensively. He can play tailback also. He was a really good tailback back in high school."

Johnson this season has played in every game, and has made 13 catches for 114 yards, including two touchdowns. He also has three carries for 19 yards. In the kick return game, he's averaging 22 yards per return, with his longest going for 38. Look for him to be more involved in the offense on Friday, especially with Samajie Grant's status up in the air. And who knows, maybe we'll see him at punt return as well.