Joshua Black, a 6’-3”, 235 pound defensive lineman from Machesney Park (IL) Harlem was a relative unknown on the recruiting scene in Illinois, but that all changed after his breakout performance at the Illini’s Maine South satellite camp.
Black’s tape up to this point is almost exclusively at offensive line, and that film is impressive in itself. But his build and athleticism make him an intriguing prospect on the defensive line, and he’s been growing at the position.
"I spent a little time last season on defense, but they primarily wanted me on offense because I have long reach and a good kick-step,” Black said of the position change. "I practiced a little bit with my brother who plays at Robert Morris in Chicago to prepare for this camp.”
Black admits that he’s still learning some of the nuances of the position and working on his instincts. Over time, he should pick up on the various skills and hone in his decision making when making moves off the ball.
"The biggest challenge is probably knowing to use your speed to your advantage,” he said. "When you’re an offensive lineman, you want to engage quickly. But when you’re a defensive lineman, you want to create as much separation as possible."
Despite spending most of his career on offense, Black thinks the grass might just be greener on the other side (of the line of scrimmage at least).
"I would say (my future is on defense),” he said. "I think I’m pretty explosive off the ball and I think I have a pretty good future at the position."
Black has seen his recruitment take off recently. Heading into the Illinois camp, South Dakota was Black’s lone offer. That all changed shortly after, and he thinks things are just getting started.
"Right now I have a lot of college interest,” he said. "University of South Dakota was the first school to offer me. I think once my tape gets around that will help. I’m also hoping for a domino effect from my offensive film. A lot of schools have only seen me play offense so far."
Football won’t be the only major factor in diagnosing qualities of schools. Like many, Black will put a lot of weight on the educational prowess of a school when making a decision, especially in his intended major.
"The number one thing is education,” he said. "Education is the best thing possible. That and if a school has my major, which is physical therapy. That’s another plus."