In just five games, Havelock’s Keion Joyner has gone from young sophomore starter to a top college prospect.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound linebacker has emerged as a star on a Havelock defense that has been shining brightly all season.
Joyner is leading the Rams in tackles this season, averaging seven per game. He also has an interception, two forced fumbles and two quarterback sacks.
“He’s a heck of a football player,” Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant said. “He’s got all these college scholarship offers, and it’s not because he’s not a good football player.
“He’s bought in. Last spring, we had a little come-to-Jesus meeting, and since then, he’s turned the corner and done everything we have asked him to do, in the weight room and in the offseason. He’s doing a great job, and I’m happy for him.”
Against Northside, Joyner was part of a defensive effort that limited the Monarchs to 91 total yards, including 60 yards rushing on 40 attempts for an average of 1.5 yards per attempt.
“We had some minor mishaps, but other than that, we did a good job,” Joyner said. “We could have capitalized a bit more.”
Akenno Godette returned a fumble for a touchdown, and Joyner tackled Northside runner Autray Taylor behind the line of scrimmage, forcing a fumble that teammate Andrew Ramirez recovered.
“All I tried to do was get to him,” said Joyner, who fought through a block to hit Taylor from behind. “Next thing you know, I just saw the ball pop out.”
Havelock’s defense has given up just three offensive touchdowns in five games and posted shutouts of Jones Senior and Kinston. Joyner said there is no secret to the success.
“It’s coming together as a team and doing your job,” he said.
As for all the college recruiting attention — Joyner is No. 97 on the Fox Sports Ultimate 300 recruiting list — he’s not looking too closely at it.
“I just try to take it day by day,” he said. “I’m just focused on school.”
Bryant said it’s no wonder that colleges are after the sophomore.
“It’s his athletic ability,” Bryant said. “He’s tall. He’s rangy. He’s fast. He’s a good football player, and he gets to the ball.”
Joyner realizes college is a few years away. He said he’s focused on this season and winning Havelock’s third consecutive state championship.
“I hope we make it as far as we can,” he said. “If we play together as a team, I think we should go pretty far.”