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Arizona hoping Jamarye Joiner’s position change will unleash his athleticism

jamarye-joiner-arizona-wildcats-college-football-wide-receiver-change-quarterback-training-camp-2019 Photo by Ryan Kelapire

Just as he did in choosing the Arizona Wildcats over interest from several other notable programs, this offseason Jamarye Joiner made a decision that he felt was necessary in order to maximize his college football career.

Transfer? That would have been the easy way out. Instead, Joiner took it upon himself to suggest a position change, from quarterback to wide receiver, to give him a better chance to contribute.

Based on how he looked during the first day of Arizona’s fall camp, it looks like that switch was a smart one.

“He looked good today,” Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin said Friday of Joiner, a former 3-star prospect from Vail’s Cienega High School. “He’s one of the top athletes on this team.”

Joiner, a redshirt freshman, appeared in two games last season at QB. He made his college debut in Week 6 against Cal, playing one series in which he had two runs for minus-four yards, and a week later at Utah he completed 3 of 4 passes for 17 yards and added five yards on five carries.

While the sample size was small, it did show how much he still had to learn in order to compete for the backup spot behind senior Khalil Tate. That job figures to again go to junior Rhett Rodriguez, who started for an injured Tate at UCLA last October, while redshirt freshman Kevin Doyle and true freshman Grant Gunnell are also in the mix.

Rather than deal with those long odds, Joiner sought out another way to contribute. And as fate would have it, receiver happens to be a position of major need for the Wildcats in 2019 after their top three pass catchers all graduated.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Joiner looked right at home with the other receivers on Friday, based on what could be observed during the open portion of practice. Sumlin agreed.

“He ran a lot of routes, he knew how to line up because we’re putting people together with quarterbacks, which makes him ahead of some of the freshmen that just got here because he could line up every time,” Sumlin said. “He even caught a couple punts today. He’s got some natural hand-eye, obviously he’s a really, really good athlete. He looks like he’s having fun.”

Allowing Joiner to move actually serves two purposes for Arizona: in addition to better utilizing his athleticism, it also keeps motivated one of the few local players on the roster. Considering that none of the three notable Class of 2020 recruits from nearby Salpointe Catholic High School included the Wildcats on their final list of colleges, it looks good as many Tucson-area kids as possible getting chances to play.