Joyner is Dayton's big man in the middle

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Nose tackle in a three-man front or tackle in a four-man front is a thankless job. You can get double or sometimes even triple teamed; hit from every angle. It's a position where glory seldom comes your way.

It's a job that the 6-foot-3 280-pound Josh Joyner seems to thrive doing.

The Dayton senior has been one of the few bright spots for the Dayton Dust Devils, who take their 1-4 record to Reno tonight to play Wooster at 7 p.m.

Joyner, who plays center and nose tackle/tackle, is averaging five tackles and one sack per contest for coach Rob Turner.

"He's had a pretty good year," Dayton coach Rob Turner said. "Teams have tended to try to run away from him. He's big and has quick feet. He's had a lot of success and gets a lot of tackles. He plays both ways, but think his heart is with defense."

Joyner agreed.

"You get a little more freedom on defense," Joyner said. "As a defensive tackle, you aren't supposed to make a lot of tackles. The linebackers are supposed to be the ones getting most of the tackles. If I'm getting a lot of tackles, it means the linebackers aren't doing their jobs."

Joyner has the athleticism and strength to play either guard or tackle, but Turner moved him to the middle this year to help him conserve his strength for defense.

"He doesn't have to pull if he's playing center," Turner said. "In our offense, guards and tackles pull on every play. Last year we had some problems at center, and we haven't had problems there this year. Jake (Turner, QB) feel very comfortable with him. He's the anchor point when we run our wedge play up the middle."

Joyner admits there are times he wouldn't mind playing one of the other spots. There are times when he wants more; feels he could help the team more at a different spot. One thing is certain, the sight of a 280-pounder pulling in high school could be a scary sight for an opposing linebacker or secondary player.

When you see a dominant player at the Division IA level, one wonders how he would do at the Division I level.

"I grew up in this town," Joyner said. "My two older brothers went here, my sister went here and my younger brother is here now. It's my hometown. It's the town I love. I think there would be a difference, but I think I would do pretty good."

At a younger age, Joyner went to elementary school with Carson's Aaron Cowee, and the Dayton senior said he held his own.

One thing that Turner likes about Joyner is his intelligence.

"He's a student of the game," Turner said. "He always asks questions that make sense."

And, he is a bit of a prankster, too.

"As a senior, I have sixth and seventh period off," Joyner said. "We would go to Pizza Factory for lunch, and everybody else is still in class. One day we came back, and put Jack Phillips' car in neutral and moved it. We only did that once or twice."

That was news to Turner.

"He's got a great sense of humor," Turner said. "He sees or hears something, and he runs with it."

Joyner hopes he hasn't played his final season of football.

"I've talked to a couple of Division I schools, an NAIA school and a Division II school," Joyner said. "I went to a camp at Western Oregon and took an unofficial visit there. I really liked it there."

"I think he can definitely play, but at what level I don't know," Turner said.


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