Joyner answering the call
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- For his first few weeks at St. Thomas Aquinas High,
"I like thinking," Joyner said Friday. "I like being alone."
Joyner, a defensive back, receiver and kick returner, felt alone at times on his team last year at Southwest Miami High. Certainly he was a star, and college coaches noticed his rare blend of speed, power and ball-hawking skills. But he didn't feel challenged on the football field, and he wasn't making the grades he needed to make himself eligible to play in college.
So, through an uncle who knows St. Thomas Aquinas assistant
Even though Joyner is surrounded by fellow blue-chippers, he stood alone again late Friday awaiting a kickoff from Byrnes High, the Duncan, S.C., powerhouse that had come to Fort Lauderdale to wrest the nation's No. 1 ranking away from Joyner's Raiders. Byrnes had just marched the ball down the field to slice the Raiders lead to seven. Mother momentum seemed to have taken up residence on the Rebels sideline. Nothing that came before -- not Joyner's 52-yard touchdown streak or teammate
As Joyner crossed the goal line, a trio of gridiron greats watched with great interest. Miami Dolphins receiver
Meyer isn't alone in his desire to sign Joyner. From a long list of suitors, Joyner has narrowed his choices to Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State and USC. And, thanks to his move to St. Thomas Aquinas, he'll probably actually attend one of those schools. Joyner said he had a 2.3 grade point average before he transferred. As he learned more about the NCAA's initial eligibility requirements, he feared he wouldn't qualify. Friday, he happily reported he is carrying a 3.2 as a senior.
For that, Joyner thanks his teachers and coaches at St. Thomas Aquinas. He hopes he repaid them Friday. He scored as a receiver and a kick returner, and he cleaned up any defensive messes as a free safety. And when Byrnes receiver
In a matchup of two Top-20 recruits, Joyner shined brightest Friday. Byrnes tailback
The Rebels refused to quit, but the Raiders made fewer mistakes. "I don't know if you can say anybody is the best team in the country," Smith said. "Who knows? What I take away from tonight is that we played a team that is one of the better teams we played in the history of this school, and we won the game. Our kids fought all night."
That especially goes for Joyner, who left the field screaming in pain from leg cramps after several possessions. Still, when the Raiders needed Joyner to make a play, he made one. "Every play, you never really know," Aquinas quarterback
It was the least Joyner could do for the coach, the teammates and the school who have helped him become one of the nations best players. "I finally got to show St. Thomas what I'm really made of," Joyner said. "I came to their team for a purpose. I wanted to give back to St. Thomas just like they gave me an opportunity."