With Florida State in desperate need of linebacker depth entering the 2016 season, the Seminoles have landed a trio of commitments from linebackers in their 2016 class. The first, Josh Brown, is already on campus as an early enrollee. The other two, Keion Joyner and Emmett Rice, must wait until National Signing Day to make their commitments official. This piece will profile the first of those two commits.
Joyner, a 6'4, 223 pound outside linebacker out of Havelock, North Carolina, is considered a four-star prospect by three of the four major recruiting services (Rivals, Scout, ESPN) while 247 Sports views him as a three-star recruit. The 247Sports composite ranking has him listed as a four-star recruit and the No. 10 player in the state of North Carolina, the second top-ten recruit from NC to commit to FSU in 2016. Coincidentally, the other North Carolina recruit is fellow outside linebacker Josh Brown.
Joyner found himself in a tough situation in his senior season when he saw himself get kicked off his high school football team for getting involved in a non-physical altercation. Before his departure from the Havelock varsity squad, Joyner was ranked as the No. 4 outside linebacker and No. 53 overall player in the country. Since he was kicked off, his rating has plummeted. The 247Sports composite ranking has him ranked as the No. 14 outside linebacker in the country and No. 208 overall player in the 2016 class. However, Joyner made it clear in his interview with Bud Elliott during Under Armour All-America week that he has learned from his mistakes and put that aspect of himself in the past.
On his commitment to Florida State, which he made during the Under Armour All-America game on January 2nd, Joyner cited the loyalty of FSU's staff as he was going through his rough stretch over the past few months as well as his relationship with defensive ends/outside linebackers coach Brad Lawing, his primary recruiter for the Seminoles. Joyner chose Florida State over 15 other offers, including the likes of Clemson, Ohio State, LSU, Oklahome, UF, Texas A&M, Auburn, and Miami, as well as in-state schools UNC and NC State. Joyner committed before making any official visits this season and is on his first and last OV this weekend at FSU.
Joyner will have a chance to make an early impact at Florida State, joining a linebacker unit that just lost two major pieces from last season, Reggie Northrup and Terrance Smith. He has said when asked that he prefers and believes he is better suited as an outside linebacker. However, the Seminoles' lack of depth in the middle of the defense may cause Joyner to play some inside linebacker as well.
TRENGTHS: Joyner possesses great length and is a quick-reacting linebacker who has the speed and ability to make plays sideline to sideline. Reads run/pass very quickly and will take good angles toward the ball carrier. Has the speed to be able to play on or off the line. Is a physical wrap-up type tackler. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Needs to become more experienced in pass coverage. Needs to continue to fill out frame and add mass and can become more consistent in his ability to shed oncoming blockers. ... BOTTOM LINE: Joyner is an athletic linebacker who has the tools to be a disruptive front-seven defender at the next level. If he can refine his pass coverage skills, he should see his stock rise.