Utah State football: Sophomore receiver Jojo Natson set for bigger role at Utah State
Logan • Standing straight, Jojo Natson measures up at only 5-foot-7.
But it's not how tall he stands, it's about when the sophomore stands tall. And the shortest listed player on Utah State's roster has developed a knack for emerging as the last man standing in a scrum.
Natson, with his speed, can sneak through traffic and make clutch grabs before other players can bring him down. And he tends to be pretty slippery, too.
"I feel like I can be that playmaker on the team this year," Natson said. "It'll come, it'll come. I just keep trying to make big plays each week."
Without Matt Austin and Chuck Jacobs this year, the Aggies are looking for receivers who can move the chains and break out big bursts. It's an area where Utah State will have a lot less experience next season.
Part of that answer appears to be Natson, who had 17 catches last year. This spring, he's been a consistent target who has shown good hands, even when he's running across the middle where he's more vulnerable to hits from linebackers and other players who have 60 pounds on him.
But despite his small stature, Natson doesn't back down. In Monday's practice, his 15-yard catch on a dig route over the middle was one of the offense's highlights, and one of a few Natson has produced in April.
"I'm feeling a lot more confident this spring," he said. "I want to be the guy who gets those big plays. I'm good friends with Chuck Jacobs, and I just want to follow in that role."
Natson could see the field in a few different roles. He's been taking reps as a returner, though coach Matt Wells has been hesitant to say who he thinks has an edge at those spots.
But there has been a definite improvement this year as Natson has shown that he's adjusting to the Division I level.
"The game is starting to slow down for him mentally, and it's allowed him to play a little bit faster," Wells said. "He is learning angles and leverage in terms of releasing, so he's got to get better at getting the ball and getting north and south after the catch. Being a small guy, he can use that to his advantage."
Watching him make catches and slip through tackles, it's hard to see how Natson's size has been anything but so far.
Jojo Natson file
• Made 17 catches for 132 yards last year
• High school teammate of WR Travis Reynolds at Boyd H. Anderson (Fla.)
• Had 90 catches, 900 yards and 20 touchdowns in his prep career