Jamarye Joiner led the Arizona Wildcats in receiving yards and touchdowns, and made a SportsCenter-worthy one-handed grab as a redshirt freshman—his first year playing wide receiver after converting from quarterback.
An impressive season, sure, but just imagine the kind of damage he could have done if he were healthy.
Joiner revealed Monday that the broken foot he had surgically repaired in May actually hindered him during much of the 2019 season.
“Football players know that, when you break in cleats you get that feeling in your foot that your feet are hurting,” he said. “And I pretty much had that feeling all season, so I didn’t think anything of it because we always have new cleats and we’re breaking in cleats during the week.
“And pretty much during early February, I went into the training room, and I was like, ‘my foot is kind of bothering me when I plant and when I make certain movements.’ So I went in and Lanny (Bradford), one of the trainers who pushed on my foot, was like, ‘that’s not good’ because I was grimacing when he pushed on it. So they took that time to get me X-rayed and it came back that I had a fracture in my foot, a Jones fracture my foot. So basically from February to six months after that I was out. I wasn’t running routes. I got surgery, probably in the middle of May, and from there on I was just trying to get back right.”
Joiner now says he’s 100 percent healthy and that “if we had a game tomorrow, I’d be ready to go.” The Tucsonan is excited to get back on the field after he ended the 2019 season by catching seven passes for a career-high 140 yards and two TDs in the road loss to ASU.
“That game set me up to showcase my talent and showcase what I can do, the role I play for the University of Arizona, just being a ballplayer and just playing for my team,” he said. “It’s just motivating because going into this year it’s momentum, just showing that we’re gonna be on the right track coming in this year and just playing our hearts out.”
Joiner’s big game at ASU came with Khalil Tate at quarterback, but he and new starter Grant Gunnell showed some nice rapport throughout the season too. Of the 101 passes Gunnell completed as a freshman, Joiner caught 11 of them. Brian Casteel (17) is the only returning receiver who hauled in more.
“Grant is a phenomenal quarterback,” Joiner said, noting that Gunnell’s arm strength has improved. “He’s hungry and he’s consistent. When he went in, we were a consistent team. So Grant has showed me and all the receivers that that we’re gonna move the ball, we’re gonna put that ball in the end zone every drive.”
The 6-foot-1, 214-pound Joiner mostly played in the slot last season, but said he’s planning to see time at other positions—including quarterback—depending on the matchup.
“I’m always bugging Coach Mazzone. I’m always like, ‘When are we going to put that quarterback in?’” Joiner laughed. “I’m always ready, that arm is still there, so I’m always joking with them. and making jokes here and there. But we’re almost definitely gonna see some packages.”
Joiner believes his injury made him a smarter player. He used the time off his feet to sharpen his football IQ by watching film.
“I tell young athletes all the time, you don’t have to be the most athletic, but you have to be the smartest in order to play as someone that’s as athletic,” he said. “So I pretty much watch football every day. I watch film every day, I try to get everything down. I watch Deebo Samuel all the time, Julio Jones all the time and try to really look at what they do in their routes and see how they get open and how they break out and where their hips are, where their arms, their eyes are. So just little things like that to help me capitalize on my game because I was sitting down for six months. Like, I couldn’t move my toes for three months. It was super bad, so I’m just blessed to be here and be playing.”
Especially since Joiner wouldn’t have been healthy enough to play in the 2020 opener if the college football season started in August like it was supposed to before the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think me, personally, I would have held myself back,” he said. “As bad as I wanted to play, I was probably like 60 percent ready and that’s not where I want to be when I’m playing because that’s how you get hurt. So it’s just a blessing in disguise that our season got canceled and got pushed back.”