Aug. 10, 2011
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Growing up, Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner admits that he liked watching former Miami linebacker Ray Lewis because of his style of play.
But his tastes have changed since then. Instead of watching and admiring Lewis blowing up ball carriers, Joyner now studies film of an another former Miami standout.
“It’s kind of funny, coming up I never paid attention to any safeties,” said Joyner, who switched from cornerback to safety for his sophomore season at FSU. “I loved watching Ray Lewis because I love hitting. But as I start getting more serious and more focused and thinking about taking my game to a whole other level, I have been watching Ed Reed for a year consistently now and it has helped me a lot.”
Reed made a name for himself at one of FSU’s biggest rivals but that doesn’t mean he and Joyner don’t share a particular bond.
That common thread is Mark Stoops.
As the defensive backs coach in Coral Gables from 2001-03, Stoops directed a stockpiled depth chart of talented players in the secondary and Reed was one of them. Now in Tallahassee as the Seminoles’ defensive coordinator/secondary coach, Stoops has a new star pupil in the defensive backfield much like he did 10 years ago.
And Joyner is happy to be under the tutelage of a coach that has such an impressive resume.
“You never stop learning,” Joyner said. “Football is about execution and you also want to know what’s going on out there on the field. I’ve been in the system before but this is my first year as a starter so I want to get as much detail and polishing as possible. That’s why I am always in Coach Stoops’ hip pocket trying to learn.”
He’s been a quick study.
After appearing in all 14 games at cornerback as a freshman in 2010, Stoops and head coach Jimbo Fisher elected to move Joyner to safety permanently. Joyner had played the position in high school and earned All-American honors so the transition was seamless.
By the time the first depth chart was released for the fall, the young defender who had grown up craving big hits had earned a starting role at strong safety. If the start of fall camp is any indication, it’s a slot on the depth chart he isn’t likely to surrender.
“It’s great being trusted as a starter on this team; especially because FSU is such a prestigious program,” Joyner said. “As a starter, the confidence level comes from knowing that you have teammates depending on you and those people trusting in you that just gives you that edge. You don’t want to let your teammates down because of the direction we are moving in.”
Fisher doesn’t envision a situation in which Joyner would disappoint his teammates.
It’s Joyner’s versatility, experience playing the cornerback position and natural talent that won’t allow such a thing to happen.
“He’s such a great tackler,” Fisher said. “He’s very physical but he can cover ground. In today’s game, when you are in the three- and four-wide sets your safeties have to cover like corners. They can get exposed in that slot when you are blitzing and doing things. They have to come down and give you a corner-type guy.
“He’s got tremendous range and the guy can fly.”