FAU Football: Wide receiver LaJohntay Wester’s receiving ability helps him stand out from the rest

Wester’s eight receiving touchdowns are tied for fourth-most in the nation.


Jaden Wiston

LaJohntay Wester celebrates his first down catch against Rice on Oct. 15, 2022.

Cameron Priester, Sports Editor

Some say it’s how “competitive he is” or his“explosiveness.” But when asked what he thinks separates himself from the pack, sophomore wide receiver LaJohntay Wester said, “I play with heart.” 

Throughout the first half of the 2022 season, Wester has become one of the most dominant wide receivers in college football.

Standing at 5-feet-11-inches and weighing 165 pounds, the Palmetto, Fla. native’s sure hands and outstanding ability after the catch currently has him tied for fourth in the nation in receiving touchdowns with eight. 

“I’m not the biggest or the strongest, maybe not the fastest, but my effort is what separates me,” said Wester. 

Before he was making plays in an FAU uniform, Wester started his career playing Pop Warner football, where his former high school coach Dave Marino said his talent stood out from the rest. 

“He was that special as a kid,” said Marino. “The same things he’s doing right now, I knew then he was going to be able to do that in high school, and eventually college.”

As a freshman at Palmetto High School, Wester played quarterback for the Tigers’ junior-varsity team. 

He began his sophomore season as the backup quarterback on the varsity squad, as there were older quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart. 

“We had to get him on the field. We knew he was an explosive athlete and had to get the ball in his hands, so we had him make the move to slot receiver,” said Marino.

Almost immediately after his transition to wide receiver, Wester solidified his status as one of Palmetto’s premier playmakers by helping lead the Tigers to three consecutive playoff appearances.

Wester’s ability was on full display his senior season. He was the Tigers’ leading receiver with 35 receptions for 758 yards and eight touchdowns, along with seven additional touchdowns returning punts and kickoffs. 

Despite lighting up the stat sheet as a senior, Division I schools were not heavily recruiting Wester. Though he had garnered some interest through earning scholarship offers from the likes of Kansas and Bowling Green, most reputed recruiting services like Rivals and 247 Sports didn’t have him ranked. 

LaJohntay Wester working his way through Charlottes defensive line on August 27, 2022. (Nicholas Windfelder)

Marino reached out to Willie Taggart, fellow Palmetto native who was in his first year as head coach at FAU, about Wester. Also on staff was Raymond Woodie, FAU’s outside linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator who was the head coach at Palmetto from 2007 to 2009.

“I called Coach Taggart and [Woodie] and said ‘Are we really going to let this kid go?’ But I’ll never forget Woodie telling me his wide receiver room was full,” said Marino. “I told him ‘You need to make some room.’” 

Not wanting to miss out on a playmaker right in their own backyard, Taggart and his staff decided to take Marino’s advice and extended Wester a scholarship offer. On Feb. 5, 2020, that year’s national signing day, he committed to FAU.

Upon his arrival in Boca Raton, Wester began making his presence felt, making three receptions in his FAU debut, a 21-17 victory over Charlotte. He continued to put up solid numbers and flash his potential throughout his freshman year, scoring his first collegiate touchdown in a 38-19 victory over rival FIU.

Wester solidified his status as the Owls’ first option at wide receiver during the 2021 season. After tallying three receptions in the season-opening loss at Florida, Wester had his “breakout game” the following week against Georgia Southern where he caught seven passes for 145 yards and a touchdown, 

He followed that same performance the following week when they went against Fordham. He broke the career-high in receptions he set the week before with 10 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown in the 45-14 victory over the Rams. 

Throughout the entire season, including a 14-catch performance against Middle Tennessee, Wester was a open target for quarterback N’Kosi Perry in an otherwise inconsistent offense for FAU. 

“We worked hard together all off-season and spend a lot of time off the field together, whether it’s just chilling or playing the game, things like that,” said Wester on his connection with Perry. “That’s a big part of why we connect so well on the field.”

Despite their offensive struggles, Wester ended the season as the Owls’ leading receiver with 65 receptions for 702 yards and four touchdowns. 

Now a sophomore and donning #1 on his jersey, Wester not only looks as dominant as ever, but is also on pace to best all of last year’s season totals. Through seven weeks, he is tied for fourth in the nation with eight receiving touchdowns, as well as leading the team with 43 catches and 467 receiving yards. 

Wester credited the jump he’s made this season to the versatility he’s allowed within first-year offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon’s offense. 

“His offense gives me a lot of freedom to be able to do what I’m good at. He just lets me work,” said Wester. “Whether it’s plays designed to get me open like rub routes, or allowing me to just use my skill to get open. He puts me in the best position to be able to make a play.” 

That jump was evident with his outstanding performance in the loss at Purdue on Sept. 24, where he put up a career-high three touchdowns, along with nine receptions for 90 yards. 

“That’s just what LaJohntay has been doing for us all year long,” said Taggart. 

The last of those three touchdowns not only capped one of the best performances of his career, but also gave the Owls an opportunity to tie the game on a two-point conversion with 5:21 left in regulation. 

“Just trying to get a win by any means necessary. I was just doing whatever I can to help this team try to get a win. That’s the type of mode I was in,” said Wester on his performance against Purdue. 

As he potentially moves on to the pros in the coming years, this performance and several others will be a huge selling point. The ability to play him from wide receiver, slot receiver, or out of the backfield will be very attractive to many pro scouts—there were even drives in the home opener against Charlotte where he was playing defensive back. 

No matter what the future holds for him, Wester only thinks about helping out the team. 

“It’s a great feeling doing anything to win. That’s my main purpose, to turn this program around and turn it into a winning program. I’m going to do whatever it takes,” said Wester. 

Cameron Priester is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @PriesterCameron