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Jamarye Joiner discusses foot injury, why he returned to Arizona

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 Oregon State at Arizona Photo by Chris Coduto/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Jamarye Joiner is still on the mend from offseason foot surgery, but said Wednesday that he hopes to be ready to play by Week 3 vs. NAU or Week 4 at Oregon.

Joiner suffered a Jones fracture in April. He’s “70 percent healthy” but won’t be a full participant when fall camp opens Friday.

“I feel phenomenal,” Joiner said. “I think my recovery process is going very well. I think that over the summer I’ve been really putting in the effort and the work to really make sure that I come back 100 percent.”

Joiner said he’s able to run, but is not able to make lateral movements yet. He’s been doing his route running and handwork in slow motion.

“It’s been frustrating at times, but I can only control what I can control,” he said. “So I think just me being an older guy now is really helping the younger guys mentally and helping them with the playbook so that when I do come back the mental aspect is already there.”

Joiner broke his foot tracking down a deep ball during the spring game on April 24. He felt his foot pop while making a double move. Joiner said his foot was sore earlier in the week but he didn’t think much of it because “it’s always been sore.”

“The injury that I have is just a wear-and-tear injury,” he said. “So every day route running and planting and pressure on your foot just caused it to break.”

This is the second time Joiner has suffered a Jones fracture—he had surgery on the same foot after the 2019 season—so the recovery has been easier this time. From a mental standpoint, anyway.

“The first time I was super down on my feelings,” Joiner said. “It was super difficult, I was in quarantine, I was in a boot. ... The second time around, I kind of knew what the process was, what I needed to do, only control what I can control. I can control what I eat, I control what I put in my body, how I recover, if I step on my foot or not, if I put my feet above my heart. Just certain things and making sure I take my vitamins.”

Joiner isn’t worried about injuring his foot for a third time.

“I don’t know if it’s because it’s my second time having it and I’m more used to it,” he said.

When Joiner is healthy, he is expected to be one of Arizona’s top receivers. He led the Wildcats in receiving yards (552) and touchdowns (5) in 2019 before being limited by injury in 2020, when he caught 12 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.

New wide receivers coach Kevin Cummings said Joiner’s potential is “off the charts.”

“Jamarye for being over 200 pounds moves really well,” Cummings said. “And so when you’re that big and you run that well, it’s a matchup nightmare for defenses. So if Jamarye keeps working on his technique, keeps being aggressive playing football, there’s not a lot of people that can cover him.”

At one point, it was unclear if Joiner was going to play at all for the Wildcats in 2021. He put his name in the transfer portal when Kevin Sumlin was fired in December.

Joiner wanted to explore his options but remained open to returning to Arizona. When Jedd Fisch was hired, Joiner met with Fisch for several hours in his office. Joiner was sold by Fisch’s vision for the program.

“The vision is really just to bring back the Desert Swarm, bring back that intensity, bring the alumni back, really make teams fear that they have to play us,” Joiner said.

That resonated with Joiner, a Tucson native who remembers going to Arizona football games as a kid. He saw first-hand how a Tucsonan—in that case it was former UA running back Ka’Deem Carey—was able to energize the program.

“That atmosphere that he pretty much created just by being from Tucson and really playing how he played really inspired me to be able to do what I’m doing now and really be excited for what Coach Fisch is bringing to Tucson,” Joiner said.

Joiner also met with Cummings, who explained how the new coaching staff plans to utilize him. Cummings detailed how Arizona’s new pro-style offense can help Joiner take his game to the next level. Cummings said Joiner will get a chance to play on both sides of the formation, in the slot, and on the outside.

“It was a very open conversation,” Cummings said. “It was just hear us out, see what we’ve got to offer, see what our plan is. What I told him was we’re gonna compete and we’re gonna have fun while we do it. That’s what I promise you. And I think that if you talk to all the guys now, that’s exactly what’s going on.”

A recent tweet from Joiner confirms it.

“If you have an Arizona offer and you haven’t committed, what are you doing?”