After suffering a series of injuries as a redshirt freshman in 2015, linebacker Kendall Joseph has spent most of his time as a Clemson Tiger on the sidelines. However, this spring he has been putting in work on the field to try and win one of the Tigers’ two open linebacker jobs.
“I love this game, and I am happy to be out here working hard,” Joseph said following Wednesday’s stadium scrimmage, where he stood out with two sacks and a fumble recovery. “I am trying to step up and become a leader by letting everyone on the defense know that they can count on me.”
Joseph has been mentored and getting advice from one player in particular who has plenty of experience between the lines.
“Ben Boulware is a good friend of mine, and a really good guy,” he said. “If I am not feeling energetic, I can look over and count on him to be going all out and to pull me up.
“I can always go to him if I have a question. He is like a coach to me. Ben is a big-time player, and I am just trying to get my feet wet … so I definitely look up to him.”
One thing that Boulware has been able to help Joseph with is his dependability.
“Hard work is the best thing you can do; I really take this seriously,” Joseph said. “I am trying to be a dependable guy. I make my mistakes here and there, but I make sure I have more plusses than minuses.”
Joseph has been spending his extra time studying the defensive schemes and working on the little things that will make his play stand out when the time comes.
“I need to focus on the small stuff right now,” he admitted. “I know the bulk of the playbook but I am a perfectionist and want to know everything. I have to know wide receiver splits. Before, I might have just lined up and played. But now I have to notice that. Small things like that make a big difference. As I continue to learn the playbook I am learning these little things.”
Defensive teammate Christian Wilkins says that Joseph’s diligence is paying off on the field.
“It’s been great to see him getting back out there; he is impressive to me,” Wilkins said. “I believe Kendall can be the next big guy in his position, especially after all the greats before him. He’s fast, he has great feet and I have a lot of respect for him.”
Wilkins went on to say that Joseph is a big part of the reason he committed to Clemson.
“Kendall was one of the first guys I talked to when I came to visit and was a reason why I came here. We really connected and I knew he was a great worker and we could be friends if I committed.”
With the support of his teammates, Joseph hopes to accomplish his goals for the 2016 season.
“I want to make plays and be accountable,” he said. “When it’s time to make a play, I’ll make it. If guys can count on me, I know I am doing my job. And if I hold my job down, everything else will fall into place.”
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