Jomon Dotson spent his first three years at UW as a running back. It didn't take long for him to make an impact on the other side of the ball.
Jomon Dotson admits he’s watched the video of his 68-yard interception return for a touchdown from last Saturday about 10 times now.
But who can blame him?
Dotson, who moved from running back to cornerback in the offseason, spent his first three seasons with the Washington Huskies waiting to showcase his highlight-making ability.
Fresno State @ UW, 6:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks
“It’s all about opportunities,” he said. “On that play, I got an opportunity to make something happen.”
In his second game in the secondary, the 5-foot-10, 181-pound redshirt junior played extensively in the second half of a 63-7 blowout over Montana at Husky Stadium.
“Around here, they love turnovers,” Dotson said. “And coach loves it when you can score. You’re not necessarily thinking about that when you’re out there, because you’re just trying to make a play.
“But if you get an opportunity to score, then why not?”
Late in the third quarter, Dotson hauled in a long throw from Montana quarterback Reese Phillips near the UW sideline. He escaped the grasp of receiver Sammy Akem and sprinted across the field, stiff-arming running back Alijah Lee.
As he neared the Montana sideline, Dotson reversed field and stiff-armed Lee again, knocking him to the ground.
“I was like you’re not getting me,” said Dotson, UW’s fastest player who posted a hand-timed 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard sprint at the team’s spring combine. “And if I can I hit this corner, then you’re not coming to get me again.”
UW reserves Brandon McKinney and Sean Constantine delivered key blocks in the middle of the field that allowed Dotson to speed down the UW sideline and into the end zone, just ahead of Montana receiver Josh Horner.
“It was a nice play,” coach Chris Petersen said. “I’d never seen a guy get so tired during the interception in my whole life when he had the goal line staring at him. But at least he got across the goal line, so I’m proud of him.”
It was a remember-me? moment for Dotson, who never really had a chance to shine at running back due to finding himself in the logjam behind regulars Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman.
Dotson, who tallied 260 yards on 57 carries in 2016, asked Petersen if he could change positions after his sophomore season.
“Of course we had some people leave and go to the draft last year, and our secondary did lose some people,” Dotson said. “I felt as though on that side it was an opportunity to help my team and get back to the national-championship playoffs.”
Dotson, who last played defensive back during his junior year at American Canyon High in northern California, had just three scholarship offers as a cornerback.
Most schools, including California, Oregon State, Colorado, Iowa and Boise State, wanted him to play running back after he set school records for career rushing yards (4,976), rushing touchdowns (60), all-purpose yards (5,499) and points scored (374).
The biggest adjustment Dotson had to make was adopting a defensive mentality.
“I’m always like ‘Hey, Jomon, if you’re not going to tackle anybody, then you can’t play here,’ ” said Jimmy Lake, UW’s co-defensive coordinator and defensive-backfield coach. “The first thing was the mentality, and the second one you have to be more of a reactive player as opposed to on offense, here’s the play — run it.
“On defense, we have to react. We don’t know what we’re going to see, and you have to read your keys.”
Lake added: “You make that switch and you can kind of get lost. … And with that one play, it’s like a reminder of what this guy can do and what he’s about.”
Dotson’s first name Jomon (pronounced juh-MAWN) is a combination of his father Joe and mother Monica. His picked up his nickname “Juice” as a kid because he loves grape juice.
“I have some Welch’s at home in the refrigerator right now,” he said. “I know it’s not good for you because of the sugar, but I’ll have some every now and then.”
Dotson’s touchdown return sparked an eruption on the UW sideline, with several players running into the end zone and mobbing him in jubilation.
The celebration drew the ire of Husky coaches, and about a dozen players needed to perform pushups Sunday as a penalty.
“We had to do 500,” said Dotson, who voluntarily performed the pushups as an act of solidarity. “I’m not going to lie to you, I did about 200.”