Less than one week until college football kicks off! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.
Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus “completely bulletproof” — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
Now a senior, Joyner’s been with the Florida State program long enough to know that last year’s top-10 season was an accomplishment. He’s existed with a chip on his shoulder for what feels like his entire playing career too, and just because he has accolades raining down on him now, it doesn’t mean he’s content. As he made clear to ESPN back in December, he’s got a very different approach that drives him:
“I didn’t have five or seven picks or 100 tackles, but I showed opponents that I’m a good ballplayer, and I will make you pay on the football field. Guys respect that, and they’ll game-plan around that. That’s a big honor for me.”
It’s that type of leadership and determination that caught Jimbo Fisher’s eye immediately, and it’s why Joyner’s able to switch positions this late in his college career and still receive praise from all angles. And even if he’s not focused on numbers, Joyner certainly knows he stands a much better chance surpassing last year’s figures at the cornerback spot versus safety. With such a solid front seven, he won’t be mopping up missed tackles in the run game, and given the shutdown corners continually on the roster, there was rarely an opportunity for him to really get involved in one-on-one coverage. Despite all that, last year saw him record 51 stops and an interception, while also getting involved in the return game. And between the solid coverage at the corner spot and the general fear opponents had for Joyner despite his smaller (5’8″) frame, he didn’t see many passes come his way at all. The switch to corner is sure to change all that, though.
Now playing as the ‘Noles primary cover man, there’s a whole new list of pressures for Joyner. The Atlantic division has some of the top wide receivers in the entire country, and many of them have at least a few inches on the senior corner. He’s going to have to rely on engaging players physically at the onset of the play, without risking losing them down the field. His aggression will come in handy, but he’ll need to keep it in check. Joyner is a hard hitter, and with the new rules in place to protect receivers, he’ll need to be wary. But for him, he’s confident in his abilities and that’s become infectious. Every observer knows he’s in full control — an intimidating characteristic for any defender. And he’s also not done with this team’s goals either. Per her conversation with the Orlando Sentinel in the offseason, which should worry the rest of the ACC:
“Coach Fisher and I aren’t finished with what we started here. He said from Day 1 I was going to be one of those guys that was going to help turn the program around. We’ve started down the right path so far, but we’re still not finished.”