Brandon Joseph had an unconventional freshman year, and it’s not just because he played in an empty Ryan Field through a global pandemic.
The Texas native received national attention and honors as a freshman that most do not receive in their entire collegiate career.
Despite playing in just nine games during a shortened season, Joseph led the Power 5 with six interceptions. He was named a consensus All-American and is just the second Wildcat on the defensive side of the ball to achieve this honor. Pat Fitzgerald is the only member of that elite club.
When it comes to personal improvement, Joseph still feels like he has a lot to change for his second year.
“I had six interceptions last year, but with my goals and what I set my standard to, that's not enough,” Joseph said. “I want to do better next year. I want to go do more. I want to improve my man technique. I want to improve my zone technique. I want to improve the way I tackle. I want to improve the way I run to the ball.”
In addition to improving his individual numbers, Joseph will be tasked with leading one of the youngest teams in the country as still, by definition, a young player. According to ESPN’s Bill Connelly, Northwestern returns just 34% of their total production from last year which is 126th in the FBS.
“I think an interesting perspective of mine is I'm a young person that's trying to step up as a leader,” Joseph said. “I think my success at such a young age will allow me to help these young players even more.”
If Joseph has a weakness, it is his size. He is just 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, but he added some weight during the offseason.
“I think [he] has learned a lot through his first year plan,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s got to slap a little bit more beef on him, and he’s done that… He’s got great flexibility and mobility and maybe has got to get a little more stability.”
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All in all, Fitzgerald is happy with the direction Joseph is trending.
“He’s just been relentless, so I think the sky’s the limit. He’s not even close to his ceiling.”
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