CHARLOTTESVILLE — If one Virginia player was allowed to have a fond memory of the 2018 UVa-Pittsburgh football game, it would have to be Terrell Jana.
Jana, a wide receiver from the Canadian province of British Columbia, had a 42-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter that accounted for the Cavaliers’ lone touchdown in a 23-13 home loss to the Panthers.
It’s also the only touchdown to date for Jana, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior who has played in 25 games, only two as a starter.
He ranked fifth on the team in receptions last year with 11, including eight in his last four games before an injury sidelined him for the Belk Bowl.
“He’s a great player,” UVa quarterback Bryce Perkins said. “He’s smart — smart as a whip — and he’s quarterback friendly. I think that’s one of the best qualities a receiver can have. We’re always on the same page.
“He’s hungry about his craft and he wants to go better. He’s really selfless and wants other people to succeed and not just him.”
Although he is a graduate of Woodberry Forest in nearby Orange County, Jana followed a circuitous path to UVa.
“Back [in Canada], colleges don’t offer full scholarships, so I didn’t want to have that burden,” Jana said. “To help my parents, I knew I had to come to the states somehow.”
He traveled to Dallas for a prospects camp, where he met a quarterback from that area, Lindell Stone, who was a boarding student at Woodberry Forest and encouraged Jana to take a look.
“He showed me some pictures, we exchanged numbers and then I went down there,” he said. “My mom wasn’t too thrilled to have me go down, so it took some begging, but eventually she said it was OK.”
It hasn’t been easy for his family to see him play, except when the Cavaliers played at Boise State, when Jana was a freshman in 2017.
Stone passed for 3,380 yards and 38 touchdowns when he and Jana were seniors at Woodberry Forest in 2016, but playing time has been scarce behind UVa’s starting quarterback Bryce Perkins.
“B-Perk has been great, as he always is,” Jana said in an assessment of the Cavaliers’ preseason camp.
“He’s an amazing leader and an amazing person off the field, too. It’s a pleasure to have him in the locker room. In the summertime, he’s gotten the wide receivers and the running backs and worked out some kinks.
“He has a little more autonomy and control over what can happen with audibles and that type of stuff. He’s more at home back there now.”
The Cavaliers, picked to win the ACC’s Coastal Division, travel to Pittsburgh for a 7:30 p.m. game Saturday against a Panthers team that has never lost to UVa at Heinz Field.
Virginia has a pair of proven wide receivers in senior Joe Reed and junior Hasise Dubois, but a void was left when Olamide Zaccheaus completed his eligibility after catching 178 passes over his final two seasons, including a school-record 93 receptions in 2018.
“There have been some great wide receivers here in the past,” Jana said, “so, constantly watching them and seeing what they did right and trying to apply it to my game has helped a lot.”