Football: With Jamerson out, ‘next guy up’ is giving it all he has

first_imgWhen Natrell Jamerson suffered an injury during the University of Wisconsin football team’s win over the University of Akron a week and a half ago that will keep him out four to six weeks, defensive backs coach Jim Leonhard challenged the reserves in his secondary to emerge as a solid replacement.“I expect the next guy to step up,” Leonhard said last week. “If they don’t, then we’ll have to go back to the drawing board.”That “next guy” appears to be Lubern Figaro. The junior cornerback has experienced an interesting career arc at UW, filled with ups-and-downs.The good times came early and often for Figaro. As a true freshman, he started four of his first career games in 2014, including the opener against Louisiana State University. He tallied an interception against Bowling Green State University and finished with 24 tackles and a fumble recovery in 13 games played.Aside from his removal from the starting lineup halfway through the season, Figaro hoped to be a mainstay in the secondary the following season. That never occurred. He played in 11 games, but recorded just one tackle, which came during the Badgers’ Holiday Bowl win over University of Southern California.“That’s just facing adversity,” Figaro said. “Everybody has to face adversity.”Figaro followed that statement by saying many people face a much worse adversity than playing the game of football. Also part of that adversity was a position change. The coaching staff decided to move Figaro from safety to corner this offseason.Leonhard now sees a much more comfortable player on the boundaries.“I think the biggest thing is just his confidence,” Leonhard said. “He’s more than athletic enough to go on the outside.”It has been a different story for Figaro this season. He has recorded seven tackles (five solo, two assisted) in 2016, playing in all three games. Against Georgia State University last Saturday, he made three solo tackles and assisted on another.“I thought he did a nice job,” UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. “I thought he came in and competed, tackled well. He’s a guy who’s played ball here before and it’s good to see him [out there].”With Jamerson out, Leonhard explained how his scheming has become slightly compromised.“With those three guys, I was able to pick and choose where I wanted them,” Leonhard said. “Now, you take that piece out of the puzzle. I’m not saying we can’t do that, but it might be a little bit difficult.”Leonhard’s goal is to make sure Figaro can still be as creative on the back end of the UW defense. Figaro said learning under Leonhard has been one of the best things to happen to his career, but still had to earn his trust throughout training camp.“Whatever he wants me to do,” Figaro said, “I’ll do.”last_img

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