Florida State has had a long history of having a dominant defense, with All-Americans at virtually every position. The Seminoles have produced some of the most talented and recognized defensive players in college football history, especially under former head coach Bobby Bowden. Bowden, former defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, and the rest of their staff would do a fantastic job of recruiting five-star athletes to Florida State, but it was not just about the recruiting. Bowden and his staff were the best in the country at getting the most out of every player that played for the Seminoles. Florida State produced a list of All-Americans that was long enough to write a book, with some of their best players of all time playing on the defensive side of the ball. One area where the Seminoles were always strong was in the defensive backfield. Safeties and cornerbacks were the backbone of those heralded Florida State defenses in the 1980’s and 90’s.
The most famous defensive back to ever play for Florida State had to be Deion Sanders, who earned All-American honors in 1987 and 1988. Sanders was electrifying with his ability to make up ground and trick the quarterback into throwing the ball his way. In 1988, in a game at Clemson, Sanders turned toward the student section and told them that he was going to take this punt back for a touchdown. Well, it turns out he was right, as he ran 76 yards the other way for a Florida State touchdown. It doesn’t stop with Sanders, however, as LeRoy Butler had a fine career as a cornerback for the Seminoles, but will mostly be remembered for the “puntrooskie” play in 1988.
From Terrell Buckley, to Corey Sawyer, to Clifton Abraham, to Tay Cody, one thing is for certain: you can always count on Florida State to have a talented defensive back who makes plays in big games. This season is no different, as Lamarcus Joyner is doing everything that he can to leave his mark on this Florida State football program. Joyner was a preseason All-American and is living up to the hype, and then some. He plays some safety and cornerback, and sometimes returns kicks, giving Florida State fans flashbacks of Sanders. Joyner plays with an attitude that is unrivaled by any other defensive back I have seen this season.
In Florida State’s biggest game this season at Clemson, Joyner came up with a performance for the ages. Joyner forced two fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and intercepted Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd when the Tigers were threatening to score. On Joyner’s second forced fumble, he came in free on a corner blitz and sacked Boyd, knocking the ball loose. His teammate, Mario Edwards, scooped up the ball and ran the other way for a Noles touchdown. Joyner is second on the team with 33 tackles, and first on the team with three sacks. He is also tied for the team lead with one interception, and first on the team with three forced fumbles.
Joyner does just about everything that the coaches ask him to do, and then some, and he saved his best performance for the biggest of stages. He brings a physical style of play that is contagious for the rest of the defense, and he is a big reason why Clemson could never get anything going on offense. Joyner set the tone early in that game, and he never let his intensity level drop. Florida State lost a lot of defensive players to the NFL Draft after last season, but that has not stopped Joyner from having an outstanding season under his new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. This Seminole’s defense has not experienced a drop-off, and Joyner is a big reason why.
Travis Patterson, Writer For ACC Rantsports.com. Follow on Twitter @tpat20. https://twitter.com/tpat20