Jackson looking to make an impact

Wide receiver Johnny Jackson is looking to make an impact this season. Read on to see if that makes him feel pressure, how his spring has gone, and more.

Last season marked the beginning of a new era for the Arizona Wildcats football program with the arrival of Rich Rodriguez. When the new head coach took over, one of the first things fans learned about him is that he has a knack for finding walk-ons who can contribute.

A walk-on in college himself, Rodriguez came to Arizona and opened up numerous position competitions and everyone was able to compete.

This opened the door for someone like wide receiver Johnny Jackson. A player who came to the roster in Mike Stoops' final campaign and spent the season watching from the sidelines, Jackson was able to take advantage of a new opportunity with Rodriguez's arrival.

He showed plenty of potential in both spring and fall camps and eventually forced his way into the receiver rotation early in the 2012 slate.

Jackson produced a 25-reception season – good for fifth on the team – and totaled 187 yards through the air. He was one of Matt Scott's most reliable targets and was able to stand a lot of punishment for a player of his stature.

Now with a season under his belt where he proved he can produce in a high-powered offense, Jackson faces the expectation of improvement.

He doesn't feel any added pressure, however, as he is going to continue to work hard on improving his game regardless of expectations.

"I don't feel any pressure at all," Jackson said. "I got my experience here and there and now it's my time I feel. Every time I get a shot I am going to go out there and perform to the best of my abilities."

While Jackson saw plenty of action as a redshirt freshman, he also spent his time on the sidelines watching and taking note of what his teammates did on the field.

He believes that has helped him progress into a better player as he enters his sophomore season.

"Sitting on the sideline a lot last year gave me a chance to watch Austin Hill, a great receiver" Jackson said. "I feel like if the ball comes to me, I should catch them all. I'm learning my route-running and technique from Austin Hill, Terrence Miller and those guys."

Quarterback is a position of concern going into 2013 with nobody on the roster outside of B.J. Denker having any experience at the Pac-12 level.

Jackson doesn't seem overly concerned with the position as of right now, as he feels Denker has performed decently in the spring.

"I feel like B.J. has done a great job," Jackson said. "He feels like he has been here for a while. We have worked with him this whole off-season and I feel like the chemistry is there. By the time we get to August, I feel like we will be right back to where we were last year."

As a player that has now possesses a bit of experience, Jackson sees himself as a player that can contribute at a higher level.

"I feel like I will contribute," Jackson said. "I feel no pressure at all. I'll just contribute where I can."

Jackson was once a player trying on the outside trying to fight his way into an already-crowded receiving core.

Even though the quality and depth at the position has seemingly improved, Jackson believes a few of the players who redshirted in 2012 are ready to make an impact in the upcoming season.

"I feel all three freshmen – Clive (Georges), Trey Griffey and Jarrell (Bennett) – I think they are all ready to perform," Jackson said. "They have had a great spring so far and I feel like we all can play. It's just a matter of where."

There are still many months of preparation ahead and UA has several kinks to work out before the start of the 2013 campaign.

Jackson already sees much improvement and believes the Wildcats are right where they should be at this point of the off-season.

"We always have room for improvement," Jackson said. "I think we're definitely progressing in the right direction. By the time we get to the end of spring I feel like we will be right where we need to be. "


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