MADISON — In a game where two true freshmen scored three of Wisconsin’s four touchdowns, a senior defensive back decided to find the end zone too.
Not only did free safety Natrell Jamerson intercept two passes during Wisconsin’s 33–24 win, he took his fourth-quarter pick 36 yards for a touchdown.
What went through the head of Jamerson, A converted wide receiver and cornerback, during the interception and taking it to the house?
“Have a good celebration,” Jamerson said. “Just it’s a great feeling, especially with a pick-six like that. Once I was in the clear, the first thing that was coming to mind was, ‘I’m celebrating,’ because we always talk about it in the DB room. Just having great return skills and got to have a good celebration, too, so that’s how it was.”
On the afternoon, Jamerson registered six tackles, a half-sack, a tackle for loss, and those two interceptions.
The most memorable play came in the fourth quarter with Wisconsin up 24–10. On a 3rd-and-8 from Northwestern’s 27-yard line, Jamerson read and broke on a Clayton Thorson pass, reeling in the interception and catching the edge near the Wildcats’ sideline. After eluding the pursuit of running back Justin Jackson, he found paydirt to give Wisconsin a three-touchdown advantage.
What did Jamerson see?
“Green grass,” Jamerson said. “I had a few blockers in front of me, and I was able to make a couple guys miss.”
Saturday’s interceptions were the first of Jamerson’s career.
“It was Christmas for him,” strong safety D’Cota Dixon said. “I have never gotten two interceptions or a pick-six in a game before, so it was surreal to see him do that. And just to see him grow over the years and take advantage of his position and today is a great example of that.”
It wasn’t just Jamerson’s play on the defensive side of the ball, but also the mark he left on special teams that played a critical role in Wisconsin’s win. With Northwestern making it a seven-point game late in the fourth quarter and regaining possession after holding UW’s offense to a three-and-out, Jamerson downed an Anthony Lotti punt at the two-yard line.
Two plays later, Dixon sacked Thorson for the game-sealing safety. Without Jamerson’s perfect execution on punt coverage, Northwestern would’ve had better field position and a greater chance to tie the game with a 1:09 left.
“Natrell brings so much to this team and has been doing it for a while,” head coach Paul Chryst said. “Two years ago, he was our special teams player of the year. What you appreciate from him is that now that he’s in a starting role, what he thinks about and how he approaches the special teams is every bit as important as it was when he was first breaking in, playing.
“And as you know, we’re going to need all the guys. There are good examples of players like ‘Trell that will do anything for this team, and you get into games—we’re going to have a lot more close games—that we’re going to need plays such as that. Doesn’t matter how it comes, what unit it comes on, we’re going to need everyone.”
When asked what was the bigger play to Jamerson, a sly smile crossed the Ocala, Fla., native’s face. He could not definitively answer.
“I mean, I don’t know. Pick-six, that was great,” Jamerson said. “It was my first one, but downing that punt, it helped a lot too. Especially, that was crunch time. We needed that, and it led to a safety as well. They’re just as good.”