Shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday, Havelock rising junior Keion Joyner gained added attention and prestige – nationwide.
Scout.com, a prominent college athletics recruiting website, announced that Joyner is its No. 1 football recruit in the nation for the class of 2016.
The 16-year-old stands 6-foot-3 inches tall and weighs 215 pounds. He powercleans 270 pounds, runs a 4.58 40-yard dash and has a 31-inch vertical leap.
Scott Kennedy, Scout.com’s national executive director of scouting, describes Joyner as a “terrific pass rusher, both patient and aggressive, incredibly fast chasing plays down from the backside.”
He added that “Joyner’s skill set gives him the versatility to play in any defensive scheme.”
Joyner already holds scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, East Carolina, Florida, Florida State, LSU, N.C. State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma – a total of 16 offers.
“It feels really good but I don’t let it get too crazy for me,” Joyner said. “It is just a credit to everyone around me who has pushed me and made me better.
“We all feed off each other here at Havelock and as a defense. That’s why we work so hard and get better every day.”
Joyner tallied 108 tackles and 7 1/2 sacks last season, adding two interceptions and three fumble recoveries. He had six tackles and half a sack along with two pass breakups as the Rams beat Concord 21-13 in the 3A state championship game.
Joyner attended the Under Armour Five-Star Challenge camp last weekend in Baltimore, Md., which is for high school athletes with a five-star recruiting rating.
“It was fun and I did pretty good once I got used to the camp and settled in,” Joyner said. “I am just trying to continue to get better and strive for winning the rest of high school.”
While Joyner is now the No. 1 rising junior football player in the nation, according to rankings by Scout.com, he’d be the last one to tell you.
“I just try not to talk about it and when I do talk about it - make small talk,” he said. “I go to camps, show my talents to people that don’t always get to see me play, and like I said, continue improving.”
Joyner has two high school seasons remaining. He has never lost a high school game in which he has been on the field.
Havelock begins the 2014 campaign at home versus Washington on Aug. 22.
Jordan Honeycutt is a reporter for the Sun Journal.