Though the start to his Stanford career was slowed by a torn ACL, redshirt freshman Devon Cajuste emerged this year to earn playing at receiver as the season progressed.
Cardinal Sports Report caught up with Cajuste after a recent Stanford practice to discuss his recovery from injury, receiving playing time this year, and the possibility of a position switch.
Cardinal Sports Report: To start, I know your first year here you were doing some good things and then had the injury. Talk about what that was like and the road back to full health?
Devon Cajuste: It was definitely a struggle because I had never dealt with that before. But it actually taught me a lot in how to mature, honestly. I think I definitely learned a lot from it.
That year, obviously it was focused on rehab, but was that also an opportunity to really focus on the mental side of things?
DC: Oh definitely. That's actually what I think I matured in handling how much you have to focus on, it was almost like applying to it to football. ACL rehab was exactly what I needed to focus on so the amount of effort that I needed to put into rehab was also what taught me to when I play football, that's the amount of focus you need for football as well.
CSR: This season has it kind of been a mix between making sure you're physically right and getting out and learning the playbook and kind of experienced things or has that kind of been behind you for a few months now?
DC: That was only like in the very beginning because it was technically my first year on the field. It picked up though because I did play for three months last year so I kind of got the gist of it.
CSR: This year you did get to see the field more, it seemed like a lot of blocking on run plays especially, what was your experience like getting some time this year?
DC: Definitely at first it was numbing. It just happened so quickly. You don't think, you just do because you do it so many times. It was exhilarating when you look back at it. It was really exciting
CSR Was there a high point for you this season, a most memorable moment?
DC: I'd say my first catch actually, in the Colorado game, where I got that from (Robbie) Picazo. It was a numbing feeling as well, like it just happened.
CSR: I think publically Zach Ertz said on the radio show that there might be some thought of moving you to tight end. What are your thoughts on a possible position switch?
DC: It's just an idea. It could happen, there is potential again like he said. It's not definite, it's not sure. But I'm sure there is a definite opportunity to do that.
CSR: Do you have a preference?
No. Whatever is best for the team, honestly. I'll play wherever they want.
Thinking back to the recruiting process, Stanford obviously wanted you as a receiver, but if I remember correctly Penn State liked you as a tight end, another team as an outside backer. Did that kind of run the gamut of positions during your recruiting process?
DC: I was really hoping that schools would pick me up as a receiver so it just helped a lot that Stanford did let me show my skills in doing it. They actually did think I was a pretty decent receiver, so that's what helped me more and then also with the academic side, but it wasn't that difficult.
For you guys as group of receivers, is there kind of like a chip on your shoulder and a feeling that you'll need to take a larger role in the passing game next year with Zach and Levine possibly leaving?
DC: Oh definitely. We've always had that chip on our shoulder, it hasn't been anything recent but now finally we get the window of opportunity. We have to make the plays and show that we're a core.
CSR: Finally, with the Rose Bowl, obviously you're an East Coaster so maybe it's not the same sense of attachment as it is out West, but did you grow up watching that at all, any kind of memories of watching that game on New Year's Day?
DC: Actually my family is huge football fans. And the Rose Bowl is the "Granddaddy of Them All" to them. It was an entirely special game. That was the game to play in or them. So it was cool dreaming that one day, what is the chance that you can play in the Rose Bowl and the fact that it's actually happening, we still can't grasp it or fathom it, so it means a lot to our family.