April 1, 2011
By: Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com
It didn’t take long for Lamarcus Joyner to display one of his greatest attributes on the football field.
At the tail-end of Florida State’s smackdown of Samford in the 2010 season opener, Joyner, the highly-hyped freshman widely considered to be one of the top players in the entire nation as a high school senior, unleashed the furry on Bulldogs fullback David Strider.
With just over a minute on the game clock and FSU flying high with a 59-6 advantage, Joyner slammed into Strider so hard that the bulky ’back may still hear ringing in his ears.
So what if his target had roughly four inches and 100 pounds on him? In his first game as a Seminole, Joyner showed early on that his natural instinct is square up and unload on any ball carrier in his tackle-range zip code.
“That’s why you wear helmets and shoulder pads,” said Joyner, who played cornerback in all 14 of FSU’s games last year. “To hit people hard.”
With that first big hit as the jumping off point, Joyner would move through his freshman campaign with several more bone-jarring blasts and the occasional personal foul flag — and bruised opponent — that came as a direct result.
Already known for being lightning fast, packing a wallop became his college calling card.
Despite his 5-foot-8 and 192-pound frame, it’s that penchant to pack a punch why it isn’t all that surprising that Joyner has made the switch from cornerback to safety for his sophomore season. Even less surprising is the fact that Joyner himself requested the change.
“As a freshman coming in everybody said I wasn’t tall enough or I didn’t weigh enough,” Joyner said. “But after the season I asked Coach (Mark) Stoops if I could move to safety because that’s more of a natural feel to me. Coach Stoops is a great defensive coordinator and he knows what he’s doing. When he moved me to safety it made life that much better.”
And life that much harder for the ’Noles’ upcoming opponents.
Because as it turns out, the transition process from cornerback to safety hasn’t been all that difficult. Even though he was ranked the No. 1 cornerback in the nation in high school, it was Joyner’s play at the safety position at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale that resulted in a USA Today National Defensive Player of the Year honor.
“Moving to safety at the college level is a great change,” Joyner said. “I have experience back there. Now it’s just learning the game and learning the system that Coach Stoops put in and using my ability and knowledge of the game to get better at the college level.”
Joyner’s on-the-job training at safety has been one preparing him for immediate and important playing time.
With incumbent starter Nick Moody sidelined for the spring following abdominal surgery, Joyner has been practicing as the first-team free safety. It’s in that slot on the depth chart he will stay until Moody is cleared to return and the competition for starting duties will naturally increase.
Joyner isn’t interested in all that, though. It’s the tallies in the win column and not in the list of starters he’s more concerned with.
“We have a great secondary and I respect everybody in our secondary,” said Joyner, who racked up 23 tackles and an interception last season. “I look up to those older guys. Moving back there with playing time, it doesn’t matter if I’m the starter. I respect guys like Terrance Parks, Greg Reid, Xavier Rhodes, and Mike Harris.
“As long as all of us are back there doing our best and are winning games that’s all that matters.”