Utah State head football coach Matt Wells announced Sunday that senior wide receiver/punt returner JoJo Natson has been dismissed from the team for violation of team rules.
“We are extremely disappointed anytime we have to make a decision regarding the future of one of our student-athletes,” said Wells. “We will continue to support JoJo as he moves forward in his career.”
Natson, a 5-7, 151-pounder from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Boyd Anderson HS), has played in 39 games during his first three years at Utah State, making 19 starts. Heading into the 2015 season, Natson was named a preseason fourth-team All-American at punt returner by Phil Steele’s Magazine.
As a junior, Natson earned first-team all-Mountain West honors as a punt returner as he ranked first in the conference and tied for third in the nation with two punt returns for touchdowns, first in the MW and 10th in the nation in punt returns (11.7 ypr), and eighth in the MW and 96th in the nation in all-purpose yards (99.6 pg). During the 2014 season, Natson returned 25 punts for 292 yards with two touchdowns on returns of 52 and 80 yards against Idaho State (9/6) and Wyoming (11/7), respectively. His 80-yard punt return against UW is the ninth-longest in school history.
Natson also earned honorable mention all-Mountain West honors as a wide receiver in 2014 as he finished the year with 51 receptions for 504 yards (9.9 ypc) with two touchdowns, and carried the ball 50 times for 498 yards (10.0 ypc) with three touchdowns.
In all, Natson had 127 career receptions, to rank 11th all-time in school history, for 1,031 yards (9.9 ypr) to go along with five receiving touchdowns. Overall, Natson was just the 17th player in school history with 100 receptions and the 32nd player in school history with 1,000 career receiving yards. On the ground, Natson added 80 career rushes for 611 yards (7.6 ypc) with six touchdowns.
Natson also returned 56 punts for 643 yards during his USU career and that average of 11.5 yards per punt return ranks third all-time in school history. He is also tied for first all-time in both Utah State and Mountain West history with four punt returns for touchdowns.
Natson, who earned honorable mention all-Mountain West honors as a punter returner during his sophomore season, was the only FBS player in the nation during both the 2013 and 2014 seasons to record multiple touchdowns rushing, receiving and returning as he had three rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns and two punt return touchdowns as both a sophomore and junior.
Utah State returns 15 starters (O-8, D-7) and 40 letterwinners (O-13, D-25, S-2) from last year's team that posted a 10-4 record, finished third in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West with a 6-2 record, and ended its season with a 21-6 win against UTEP in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. At season's end, USU received 11 top 25 votes in the final Associated Press poll and eight votes in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll to rank 32nd and 34th, respectively.
This will make it even more important for the remaining WR as well as new signees. Also Brandon Swindall is coming back from a severe injory last year in game 1.