They say home is where the heart is.
For Arizona Wildcats redshirt senior Johnny Jackson, playing offense is home for him on the football field.
The great wide receiving depth that Rich Rodriguez has this season has been well documented and over the last year or so, has tried to move some of those receivers to the secondary to improve the depth there. We saw him do that with Davonte Neal this past offseason and before that, he tried to so with Jackson.
For a little over a year, he tried to work his way into the starting rotation at corner but it just hadn’t panned out. About three weeks ago with the news of slot receiver Tyrell Johnson going down with a foot injury that had been nagging him all offseason, Rodriguez opted to move Jackson back to offense to fill the void.
“He was buried on the depth chart and wasn’t going to play,” said Rodriguez after the Wildcats season-opening win over Texas-San Antonio last week. “I was like ‘this guy was once a starter for us at wide out,’ and he made an instant impact the day we moved him and he did tonight too.”
In the big opening night performance, quarterback Anu Solomon and Jackson were connecting early and often with Jackson ultimately ending up with a team high eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.
“It feels good to be back on offense,” explained Jackson. “That’s where my heart has always been. I felt like I could have done better tonight but you know, I am overall happy with the performance.”
For the game in addition to Tyrell Johnson still being sidelined, Trey Griffey and Samajie Grant also did not suit up giving Johnson plenty of opportunities to see game action and he took advantage. He proved that even with multiple injuries to the receiving core, the depth is as prevalent and as important as ever at that position.
“It’s very important,” stated Anu Solomon. “We have a long season. In football, people are going to get hurt you know, we need the next guy to be ready mentally and physically and Johnny did that.”
“He’s a competitive guy,” mentioned Rodriguez. “Really proud of Johnny.”
For Jackson, who is in the midst of his final season in a Wildcat uniform, every opportunity to make an impact is huge as his games are numbered. So it feels great for him to get off to this fast start.
His teammates acknowledge that as well.
“I’m sure Johnny feels like the man!” Solomon joked. “I mean, that’s the man right there!”
Jackson interrupted by saying, “he’s lying.”
Arizona’s week two matchup is on the road in Reno to take on the Nevada Wolfpack on Saturday.