Vosean Joseph says he first put his mind to work on the idea that he could accomplish big things on the football field early in his high school career from former rap star turned football coach Luther Campbell. Campbell (Uncle Luke) was an assistant coach at Norland High School in Miami while Joseph was there and laid the foundation for Joseph as a guy that won’t be denied.
Like so many down there, they don’t have much and they are looking for their way out of an environment that at times can be oppressive. Football is the way out for many and to do so, you have to play like every play is your last.
“When Uncle Luke came, when Coach Luke came to my high school, I realized everybody’s a dog,” Joseph said late last week as the Gators started spring football. “We really came from nothing, to now we’ve just got to ball out. Football is our only way. We’ve just got to do what we’ve got to do.”
I refer to Joseph as a ‘Randy Shannon Special’. Florida’s newly assigned defensive coordinator played at Norland High School himself many moons ago. He then moved on to play at the University of Miami. He was an assistant and head coach with the Miami Hurricanes and an assistant with the Miami Dolphins.
If there is anyone that knows what a prospect from the area is like, how he lives, how he breathes, and what football means to him, it is Shannon. Joseph wasn’t the most prized recruit coming out of high school and many scoffed when the gators took his commitment. But, as his senior season progressed, a lot of people started to come around to the talent he was displaying on Friday nights.
Alabama got in the mix late for Joseph, but he stuck with his early commitment to the Gators. None of that recruiting stuff ever seemed to matter to Joseph, he just knew what his priority was, getting out of where he was.
“I don’t see (any) stars,” he said. “When we’re on the field, when you put on the pads the same way I do, so you’re going to get this work the same way as everybody else (does). I don’t see no stars or nothing like that.”
Fast forward to his freshman season in 2016 and Joseph was finding his way on the football field early for the Gators. Joseph saw action in all 13 games for the Gators, playing on four different special teams units. He was a head hunter early on, with little regard for his own body. He was a missile on the field making life painful for the opponent.
He wanted to see more time on defense, but he knew he would get his turn. With the injuries to Anzalone and Davis in the last quarter of the season, Joseph started to get on the field more.
“Everything is about patience… they say patience is a virtue,” Joseph said. “Coach Shannon he just kept telling us our time is coming, our time is coming. When (Davis) went down, David Reese stepped up. I was just waiting on my chance. My chance came and I just did my best.”
He had slobber-knocker hits on special teams throughout the year, but the one that everyone really remembers was not only memorable because of hoard he hit LSU quarterback Danny Etling, but also the importance of the stop that he made.
Joseph hit the LSU signal caller right near the goal line, forcing a field goal try that ended up going for naught and then Florida scored a play later on a 98-yard touchdown pass. The game was won on a goal line stop by the Gator defense that also included Joseph on the field at the time.
But it was that hit that people remember. Social media went crazy broadcasting poor Etling getting clobbered. Joseph continually blows it off.
“Well, that was just like a regular play to me,” he said. “That was really nothing.”
He really means it. His teammates say he is always playing 100 miles per hour on every play in practice as well.
“When we’re practicing I play like I’m in a game,” he said. “I’m going to come at you 100 percent. The o-line knows that. They come at me even before we even hit the field, ‘Vosean, are you going to take it easy? No, I’m not taking it easy.’ I’m going to make everybody better and we’re just going to compete.”
And now he has to help lead with the other linebackers this spring. Along with Davis and Anzalone off to the NFL, sophomore David Reese is also missing this spring because of injury.
“David Reese, he’s a great player. That’s my boy. He’s real good. Me and Kylan (Johnson) and (Cristian) Garcia, whatever linebacker comes in, we’re going to compete regardless. We just have to go out there and play.”
As you can see, he isn’t stuck on himself, and he isn’t worried about who gets on the field. He knows he will get his and he also knows that the team needs all the guys at the position to play and perform well.
“Whatever they do I’m just gonna play with it,” he said about playing time. “I want everybody to play. Everybody’s going to compete. Everybody’s going to try to get in the game. We need our rest at the end of the day. We’re not robots. We need everybody to come through and compete.”
But understand this… Joseph plans on taking advantage of every chance he gets.
“This spring is going to be very big for me,” he said. “They ain’t seen nothing yet. Trust me.”