Jamarye Joiner’s experience at Arizona’s Lowell-Stevens Football Facility on Sunday was like something out of an old-school video game.
To get to the big boss, you must go through his minions.
Joiner first met with Rod Smith, Arizona’s quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator.
Then, the Cienega High School star stopped to visit with Chris Singletary, Arizona’s recruiting coordinator.
Finally, he arrived at UA coach Rich Rodriguez’s office.
Enough stress already, he thought.
“My parents were just beating around the bush,” Joiner said. “So finally, my dad was like, ‘all right, just tell him.’
“I said, ‘I’m going to commit here.’ ”
Rodriguez jumped out of his chair and gave Joiner a hug.
Joiner will play in Friday night’s showdown against Salpointe Catholic as an Arizona commit. He is the first member of the UA’s 2018 recruiting class.
“It was emotional because it’s my home city, and the college is right down the street,” Joiner said.
Joiner visited the campus on Saturday for Arizona’s game against Washington. After watching quarterback Brandon Dawkins run for 176 yards and two touchdowns against a Huskies defense loaded with NFL talent, he knew he wanted to be a Wildcat.
“It was just like any other visit, but it was just more special because I was a part of something, and I knew I was going to stay home,” he said.
There was a point in Joiner’s young high school football career, though, when he thought this moment might not come.
Joiner burst onto the scene as a freshman at Salpointe Catholic, throwing for 203 yards, rushing for 203 yards and catching 345 yards’ worth of passes. He was named a 2014 MaxPreps Freshman All-American.
Joiner was expelled from Salpointe as a sophomore and missed the entire season. He then transferred to Cienega.
So far, his junior year is going well.
The Bobcats are perhaps the top team in Southern Arizona. They’re 5-0, and have defeated each of their opponents by more than 20 points. With Joiner leading the way, Cienega trounced Tucson High 66-34 last week.
Joiner has split time at quarterback and elsewhere, amassing 581 passing yards, 358 rushing yards, 20 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
“It’s no question we weren’t sure what we were getting when we got him,” coach Pat Nugent said. “We knew he was going to be a good football player, but he’s been everything everybody talked about, getting better each week.”
Arizona offered Joiner his first Division I scholarship last month. He has since received heavy interest from Nebraska, UCLA and Washington, with letters from schools all over the country still pouring in. Joiner said he still plans to visit some other schools.
“It’s real emotional because it’s overwhelming and a lot to take in because I’m back,” Joiner said of all the interest.
Added Cienega receiver Breaben Bolton: “I think if anyone deserves it, it’s him. He works hard, he has grinded. He got his chance, he showed what he can do, and that’s the outcome.”
A week that began with one chapter of redemption will end with a second. Joiner will travel back to Salpointe for the first time since leaving.
“We need to keep him under wraps,” Nugent said. “He can’t get over excited, he can’t get out of his routine. He’s done everything right, and he can’t let those guys get under his skin.”
Joiner will try to stay within himself, even though he wants to beat his former school and teammates.
“In a sense, they’re the ones that made me who I am now,” Joiner said. “So it’s just going back there and playing my game.
“A little bit of it is going to be emotional, and a little of it is going to be like, they’re not different than any other team.
“We’re going to try and put up as much points as we can, execute our plays and try to win that game.”