Shawn Poindexter enters the 2018 season as the Arizona Wildcats’ most intriguing pass-catching option. There’s a reason he’s on the team poster, after all.
The senior is coming off a 2017 season in which he caught 19 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers aren’t eye-popping, but it was a major improvement from the six receptions and 82 yards he tallied in 2016.
That plus his 6-foot-5 frame, a new coaching staff, and Khalil Tate as his quarterback makes for a potential breakout season in his last go-around.
To truly appreciate Poindexter’s place atop the 2018 wide receiver depth chart, it’s best to start at the beginning of his journey.
Poindexter was an incredible athlete in high school. He was a three-sport star, playing football, basketball and volleyball.
During his senior season at Centennial High School in Peoria, he was a two-way football player and led the team with seven touchdowns. Centennial finished 12-2 and lost in the Division II championship. At the time, Division II was the second highest division in Arizona high school sports.
For those who are not familiar with Arizona high school sports, Centennial is one of the more prestigious programs in the Arizona Interscholastic Association. In fact to speak to the level of talent on their team, Poindexter was teammates with standouts who committed to other FBS Power Five schools like Zach Hoffpauir (Stanford), Jalen Ortiz (UCLA) and Dedrick Young (Nebraska).
Many fans may not realize that Poindexter originally chose not to pursue football at the next level and committed to playing volleyball at Cal Baptist. However, he ultimately decided that his heart was with football.
He enrolled at Glendale Community College in Arizona for the 2015 season and seized the opportunity. After logging 47 receptions, 727 yards and seven touchdowns, he was honored with First Team All- Arizona Community College Athletic Conference and Second Team All-Western States Football League.
Despite an outstanding junior college campaign, Poindexter’s only FBS Power Five offer was from Arizona. He also received offers from Marshall, South Dakota State and UAB.
During my interview with him on media day in 2016, Poindexter said the biggest adjustment he needed to make from JuCo to the FBS was the speed of the game.
“I’ve never been in an offense this fast,” he said at the time. “So picking that up with thinking quick and reacting quick has been something I’ve been really working on.”
Rich Rodriguez’s offensive scheme is no longer in place, but it served as a valuable tool to combat the transitional learning curve. Poindexter was able to step up to the challenge of quickly adapting to the increased speed of play.
Last December,, the NCAA granted Poindexter with an additional year of eligibility. Nearly two weeks later, he had his best game as a Wildcat when he caught five passes for 71 yards and a touchdown against Purdue in the Foster Farms Bowl.
Fast-forward to the Wildcats’ spring game, and Poindexter was a popular target for Tate. Poindexter’s big-play ability was on display as Tate connected with him on a 50-yard touchdown strike. Poindexter’s route running and speed flashed on another big play where he picked up 41 yards.
Arizona’s offense will be different under first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. The new scheme should be more balanced, which will likely help Poindexter, as Arizona was extremely run-heavy the past two seasons.
And if his performance in the spring game is any indication, Poindexter’s third and final season at Arizona should be quite the finale.