John Hightower Proposes Race to Crown Eagles’ Fastest WR

John Hightower

Getty Eagles rookie WR John Hightower has patterned his game after Stefon Diggs.

The Eagles got much faster on offense after drafting three lightning bolts, including two track stars. But everyone wants to know which one would win in a race?

The fastest 40 time of the bunch belongs to Quez Watkins (4.35) unless you count the 4.22 adjusted time that Jalen Reagor clocked at his virtual pro day. John Hightower, a fifth-round pick, seems to be the slowest contender to the crown of fastest Eagles receiver after running it in 4.43 seconds.

Then there is veteran DeSean Jackson who can still fly at age 33 and claimed he could do it in 4.32 seconds. It all depends on whom you talk to. The only way to truly settle the debate would be to have them line up and race on the field, according to Hightower. He’s up for the challenge if the others are.

“I don’t know. We’ll have to race to see,” Hightower said when asked which teammates can beat him. It was something he mentioned on draft day as well.

Hightower was a legitimate track star in high school and junior college where he excelled in the 400-meter hurdles. He gave up on his Olympic dreams to focus on playing football once he got to Boise State. But speed like that doesn’t vanish into thin air — unlike Hightower himself on this 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown — and the Eagles want him on the field as much as possible.

They are cross-training the Maryland native at multiple wide receiver positions (X,Y,Z) while teasing a role for him on special teams. With Marquise Goodwin choosing to opt-out in 2020, Hightower should see increased reps in training camp and more reps usually lead to more opportunities and better job security.

“No specific area. I’m just learning the offense at all positions so I’ll be able to move around,” Hightower said about his main position. “With one person being out, I guess they’ll have to figure out the rotation with the reps and everything. That’s pretty much up to the coaches and everything, on how many reps I do get and how many reps I don’t get.”

But it’s only August and depth charts are still in their infancy stages. Hightower has no clue about the team’s long-term plans for him.

“I don’t really know as far as a timetable or anything,” he said. “I know that when they call my number I’m going to be ready.”

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Hightower Admired Stefon Diggs Growing Up

Hightower shies away from comparing himself to other players. He would rather let his play do the talking and carve out his own legacy. However, put him in a corner and the one name he always brings up is Stefon Diggs.

Diggs, who was traded to from Minnesota to Buffalo, is a fellow Maryland native who grew up in the same area where Hightower did. He was also a high school track star and Diggs’ exploits were legendary back home. Everyone knew he was going to turn into a superstar at the next level.

“It’s really great to see that,” Hightower said of Diggs’ success. “Obviously somebody from the area making it to the place where Stefon Diggs made it to, and pretty much coming up everybody pretty much knew that Stefon Diggs was going to be what he is today. It was great to see him from high school to college and now in the league, to still be doing what he’s been doing.”

Hightower infuses little bits and pieces of Diggs’ game into his own, specifically the way he runs routes.

“Stefon Diggs’ routes are phenomenal,” Hightower said. “He makes great cuts. He catches the ball very well. He’s a great player.”

Big Fan of New WR Coach Aaron Moorehead

The Eagles hope they have stopped the revolving door at wide receivers coach after hiring Aaron Moorehead to shore up the unit. Doug Pederson has gone through five different coaches there since taking the reins in 2016. In Moorehead, the head coach believes he has found a teacher who can develop talent — and the Eagles have plenty of that at the position.

“I’m constantly evaluating everybody,” Pederson told reporters in February, “and my coaches know this coming into this business and coming into our organization.”

Moorehead has built a strong reputation for molding players, too. He mentored future NFL starters like the Cardinals’ Christian Kirk and the Rams’ Josh Reynolds in college. Hightower has only been under his tutelage for a week but he already feels a strong connection with his position coach.

“Coach Moorehead is really helpful,” Hightower said. “He really goes through the plays and really gives us details on how to run certain routes or how certain plays should be run and everything. I feel like he’s very helpful in helping us figure out and remember different plays.”

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