The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

December 1, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN: Joseph not playing like a freshman

MORGANTOWN — It is Senior Day for West Virginia University today when Kansas comes to town, but if anyone is going to steal the show it is a true freshman linebacker who plays on the much-maligned defensive side of the ball, a true freshman named Karl Joseph who narrowly leads the Mountaineers in total tackles but who may lead the world in monster hits.

A surprise that a freshman, caught up in a defense that gives up a school record 40.6 points per game, should be able to emerge as a star?

Hardly.

Not to himself, not the coaches and not even in this corner, who wrote this in April after citing a play Joseph made that begins his high school highlight reel:

“There is more of this to come on the reel. Receivers are separated from their senses. Ball carriers knocked silly.

“He flies to the ball, and when he gets there he doesn’t miss.

“But that’s high school.”

Indeed, it is long jump from high school football to BCS college football, but as stated then, after seeing him in the spring:

“There was nothing bashful about him.

“He came to play.”

And play he did. A freshman?

“I knew I was going to be able to compete. I’m never scared of competition,” he said.

At the end of spring camp, WVU coach Dana Holgorsen knew he was a gem.

“Karl Joseph is probably the one guy out of all the new guys coming in that has got something to him,” Holgorsen answered when asked to name the top newcomer in camp. “You can pencil him in to play a good bit.”

A good bit turned out to be 98 percent of the plays, battering his body on Saturdays and shaking it off in time to return to practice on time to go through it all again.

The men who play around him marvel at what they see on the field and then in the film room on Sunday.

“He amazes me,” safety Darwin Cook noted a few days after Cook jarred the ball loose near the goal line against Iowa State and Joseph fell on it to preserve the victory that was slipping away and to end a five-game losing streak. “He plays with such a passion. He makes you feel like you love football, like you were young again.”

Cook noted that he “plays with a passion.”

Listen to what Joseph said there at the end of spring practice:

“Football is my passion. I love to play, and it drives me to get better. You’ve got to be driven by it.”

It’s one thing to talk about passionate play, another thing to be able to do it week in and week out, do it with such enthusiasm that it actually rubs off on others, makes them feel as though they were young again.

“He’s shown no fear. He has so much confidence. It doesn’t even faze him,” his defensive coordinator, Joe DeForest, said of him.

Oh, like everyone else, DeForest admits there was a time in midseason when he hit “the freshman wall,” a time when beating on others so much bigger and better and harder hitting than those you’ve faced wears on you.

The thing that differentiated Joseph from other freshmen was his reaction to it.

“He burst through it,” DeForest said. “During practices during the middle of the year, you could see him hit that wall. His body was getting worn down, but he fought through it.”

That’s not to say it didn’t affect him.

“When you hit someone so hard, it hurts your body, too. Don’t let anybody fool you. The opponent isn’t the only one who feels it. You do too,” DeForest said.

It isn’t that he hadn’t been warned about that very thing.

“I tell him he has to save his body,” Cook said.

But he’s a warrior, and he should be feasting today on Kansas’ run-heavy approach.

Asked what makes him tick, DeForest replied, “I wish I could bottle it. He’s being coached just like the other guys. Some guys have it. Some guys will have it, and some guys will never have it. He is reckless. He doesn’t have any fear for his body.”

The thing that makes him special on this day that honors the 22 seniors who are leaving is that Joseph will be back, probably for three more years of this, back to continue his growth into what could be an All-American.

“He is still missing some tackles, but you want him to be somewhat reckless,” Holgorsen said. “There have been one or two hits in each game that have been game-changing hits. By playing like that, he is going to miss a tackle or two. He has been our most consistent kid in terms of production and effort.

“With that said, he is still young and will continue to get better. He is what you are looking for defensively. He has produced at a very young age.”

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right

    The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.

    April 21, 2014

  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos