Passing the Torch: NSU’s Javon Antonio carrying on the legacy of the No. 1 jersey
NATCHITOCHES, La. (KALB) - Northwestern State University wide receiver Javon Antonio has made a name for himself on the field this season, as he has been the go-to guy for the Demons in clinching moments, like making the game-winning catch against Nicholls State University.
“There was a lot of excitement after I caught that ball,” said Antonio. “I was like ‘did we just win it?’ But, it wasn’t over, so we went for two right after the catch. We are going again, I was surprised, they were putting it all in my hands. It made me happy knowing that Coach Laird had faith in me.”
Antonio missed last season due to academic reasons, but his motivation comes from his new jersey number, No. 1. Demons Head Coach Brad Laird said the jersey is not just given to anyone; it is earned.
“I went to Javon and asked him what he wanted to do because that is a big moment to change jersey number,” said Laird. “Those numbers can be reflected of a lot of things that have happened in the past. I think he understood the nature of wearing that jersey, and he wanted to be a part of that. He has shown why he is part of wearing that No. 1.”
One of the last players to wear the jersey is former Demons’ receiver and LSU transfer Jazz Ferguson in 2018, and when Javon was presented with the jersey, he wanted to know whose footsteps he was following in.
“My thoughts just went back to when I went to search it online, the previous people who wore the number,” said Antonio. “I found it was Jazz, and I’m in contact with him now. I text him every game, and he lets me know what’s going on and tells me ‘good game.’ After the Nicholls game, he said ‘tremendous game.’ I told him it reminded me that what I did at Nicholls is what he did at McNeese. That game, we both got the game winner.”
Not only did they both have a game-winning catch, but Coach Laird also said there are many other similarities between the receivers.
“They all went through an adverse situation where they had to sit out,” said Laird. “Both were on scout team for a year. They had to work their way back to get that opportunity to be able to play on Saturdays. I go back to practice, Jazz loved to practice. Javon, he shows up every day for practice. I keep bringing that up, I think they better themselves because of their practice habits and that is a real big consistency between those two that I see.”
Demons’ quarterback Zach Clement said Antonio has become someone he can always count on, on and off the field.
“He has grown from last year to this year in a lot of ways,” said Clement. “The route he has taken this offseason is serious. I have seen it myself, and it has really shown this season. Seeing him work and how hard he works really gives me a lot of confidence in him. I definitely trust him when I throw the ball to him for sure.”
Each game day as Antonio puts on his jersey and steps on the field, he said his teammates never let him forget what he and wearing No. 1 means to them.
“I try to stay locked in, but my team doesn’t let me,” Antonio. “They say ‘come on one, we need you one,’ every time we run out. It is your game one, everyone tells me I need to be that guy.”
Antonio said he is living his childhood dream of making an impact on the field and on his teammates.
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