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Arizona football: Jamarye Joiner’s potential, inexperience showing in first year at wide receiver

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Arizona at USC Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kevin Sumlin wanted consistency from the Arizona Wildcats in 2019. He repeated the word over and over again during fall camp.

Jamarye Joiner is still trying to establish some.

The redshirt freshman is Arizona’s leading receiver through seven games with 290 yards, but he has made his fair share of mistakes too, including some key drops (like a would-be touchdown pass against USC), some bobbled catches, and a fumble against Washington that helped the Huskies turn the tide in a 51-27 win.

To be fair, Joiner has a good reason for his unevenness. This is his first year in a major role with the Wildcats, and he has only played wide receiver for a few months after spending his true freshman season and the bulk of his high school career at quarterback.

In short, Joiner is talented but inexperienced and looks every bit of it, Sumlin said.

“Here’s a guy who moved to the position in the summer, came through camp and has played seven games there,” the UA coach said. “Didn’t play the position in high school. He’s had flashes of where he’s done some really good things, he’s dropped some balls. He’s run some really great routes, he’s run some bad ones. He’s getting better. He’s made big plays for us. He’s just now getting going. He’s only going to continue to improve.”

Fellow receiver Brian Casteel is not surprised by Joiner’s production because of the type of athlete he is—Joiner is 6-foot-1, 210 pounds with pretty good speed—and noted that Joiner’s technique and route running is where he’s improved the most since fall camp.

“He used to drag his foot a lot at the top (of his routes), but now as he’s gotten more comfortable at receiver, he’s gotten better,” Casteel said.

Joiner said a few weeks ago that lining up as a receiver is “a different environment, but I like it.”

“The toughest part of the adjustment is just conditioning. Running and being more physical,” he said. “My freshman year of high school I played receiver. Before that, I played running back and corner and safety. I’ve always had that grit about me, so being physical is not something I had to obtain. I already had it because even in high school I used to look for contact and my coach would get mad at me. … But quarterback is a different type of aggressiveness.”