Redshirt Freshman-OLB-6’2”-235 lbs-Homestead, Fla.-South Dade HS
Shaquille Quarterman, Zach McCloud, and Michael Pinckney have combined to start more than 30 games as a unit. Cutting into this rotation of playmaking linebackers is seemingly insurmountable. Especially, if you’re transitioning into a new position. Early in the offseason, back-up linebackers Waynmon Steed and B.J. Jennings endured serious leg injuries that kept them from the final two weeks of spring ball. Zach McCloud was held out due to a wrist injury and De’Andre Wilder was still recovering from a neck injury at the time. The depth at the linebacker position was surging towards paper thin. At one point in the offseason, Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney were the only healthy scholarship linebackers on the roster. Manny Diaz and staff chose to move defensive end Patrick Joyner, Jr. from defensive end to linebacker during the final week of spring practices. The switch to gain depth for the spring game was a fortuitous one. Joyner fit naturally at the position. The talent is there for this young linebacker to excel for years to come.
Patrick Joyner, Jr. starred as a defensive end at South Dade. He was tabbed as a four-star recruit and the 23rd-best prospect at his position by ESPN. Rivals had the Florida talent as a three-star. In 2017, Joyner, Jr. was Miami Herald All-Dade First Team. During his Senior season, he tallied 87 total tackles and forced two fumbles. Originally an FSU commit, Joyner chose Miami over Alabama, Florida and Auburn, and many other powerhouse programs wanting his services. Joyner, Jr. flipped after Jimbo Fisher’s resignation. He stated, “I committed to coach Diaz... I told him, I’m ready to be a Cane. He was excited.”
Joyner, Jr. was originally recruited to play strong-side linebacker for the Canes. He was moved to moved back to his high school position of defensive end during fall camp last year. As part of the #Storm18 crew, Joyner, Jr. saw some action on the field. He played in four games last season, totaling 5 tackles. Three of those tackles (2 solo and 1 assisted) came in his first game as a Hurricane against Savannah State. He also notched one tackle in the win over FIU and another one in the season finale against Pittsburgh. His action was limited in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Officially a Linebacker— Patrick Joyner Jr. (@JoynerPatrick) April 24, 2019
Joyner, Jr. led the Hurricanes defense in the spring game with four total tackles. After the game, Coach Diaz remarked on his performance, “He stepped up at linebacker. We recruited him with the idea of being both a linebacker and defensive end. He will continue towards doing that as he continues to reshape his body.” Defensive coordinator Blake Baker was also fired up by Joyner, Jr.’s play, “He was awesome. I couldn’t be more proud of him. He made some plays in the backfield and he loves the game. He is sitting there tapping me on the shoulder and telling me he is ready to get back in the game. I am really proud of his performance and happy about his attitude.”
Joyner, Jr. is a fluid athlete with great lateral agility. He gets a jump on the ball with a phenomenal first step. He’s a strong tackler and showed, through a successful position switch, that he’s comfortable in space and dropping into zones. There’s not much current utility for him in the 2019 season with the current logjam of talent at the position. However, any DE/LB tweener with speed, good hand usage, and awareness is always a good weapon to have. For now, he may just be used situationally or if a wave of injuries hits the Canes. With several years left for him at Coral Gables, he may develop into a key figure at the position down the line.