Coach Speak: Bernard Joseph on Isaiah Davis

Maryland secured a commitment from St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Alexandria, Va.) linebacker Isaiah Davis Aug. 12, and to gain more insight into the 6-foot-1, 220-pound three-star, who is the brother of current Terps safety Sean Davis, we spoke to his head coach, Bernard Joseph.

Maryland secured a commitment from St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Alexandria, Va.) linebacker Isaiah Davis Aug. 12, and to gain more insight into the 6-foot-1, 220-pound three-star, who is the brother of current Terps safety Sean Davis, we spoke to his head coach, Bernard Joseph.

Terrapin Times: Coach, I know Isaiah began his career over at Sidwell Friends in D.C., but in the almost two years since you’ve had him, how has he developed?

Bernard Joseph: When he first got here he was pretty raw. He was a good athlete, but he hadn’t been working at the linebacker position long enough to really have it down. But now what you’re seeing is someone who really understands how to play middle linebacker. He’s learned it well, he understands it, and he’s grown into someone who can play there at a high level [in college].

TT:Coach, can you break down Isaiah’s game for us? What does he do well and what does he still need to work on?

BJ: Isaiah might be the hardest working kid, probably, that I’ve ever coached. His ability to make plays, because of his mental toughness and how hard he works sets him apart from a lot of kids at the high school level. What makes him a great player is he’s a downhill player. He doesn’t waste a lot of movement, he makes quick decisions and he comes with it every play. That intensity results in his ability to make plays consistently.

TT:But what does he have to do to get ready for Big Ten ball? What’s he have to do to raise his game a notch?

BJ: To be honest, I think he can do it now. I mean, he’ll have to keep getting stronger and faster, but have you seen the kid? He’s a man among boys. Physically he’s where he needs to be in terms of his body. Of course at the next level it’s more mental and knowing your assignments, but physically he can do it now.

TT:But obviously he’ll be making the transition from a defensive end, MIKE spot to Maryland’s weak-side or MO position. Doesn’t he have to work on his coverage and footwork to be able to do that?

BJ: Well, that’s what he’s been working on since he’s been here. After school, in the offseason, in the summer he’s been working with DB coaches so he can cover better, so he can drop back and run. And I think that ability [to run and cover] is the main reasons he got the offers that he did. Once the college coaches saw him run, to go along with where he already was physically, that’s what set him apart.

TT:As far as Maryland is concerned, once he received the offer we figured he’d end up in College Park considering his brother, Sean, is a Terp and he expressed a desire to play with him. But it seems like he really took a methodical approach and really explored all his options like NC State, Virginia Tech, Boston College. Did you think Maryland would be his destination, or did you think he’d end up at State or maybe Tech?

BJ: Well, he was weighing all his options equally, and I never thought he favored one school over another. I never had an idea that there was a clear favorite. But I think what sealed the deal for Maryland is Coach [Mike] Locksley to be honest. Coach Locksley had a conversation with Isaiah [Aug. 11], and I think that made Isaiah really comfortable with Maryland. He told Isaiah about the benefits of playing in your own state and representing the state of Maryland. He talked about the pride you have of being a Maryland Terp and living in Maryland, and then playing with his brother and his family being there. I think that’s what really put the nail in the coffin, that conversation with Coach Locksley.

TT:Yeah, Isaiah talked about that and I was a little confused because I know Lyndon Johnson recruited him. What was Coach Johnson like in the process?

BJ: Oh, Coach Johnson was involved and was very deliberate, and he did a great job with his recruiting duties. But I really think it was Coach Locksley who sealed the deal, to be honest.

TT:What’s your relationship with Maryland in general? How’s it been with the staff over there?

BJ: Oh, it’s always been great. I coached at Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) and I’ve always been a Prince George’s County guy. I played at McNamara too. I’ve always had a great relationship with Maryland’s head coaches and assistants too.

TT:Great. Back to Isaiah here for a minute. What kind of potential does he have at the next level? Is he a guy that is a program player, a three-year starter, or maybe even all-conference?

BJ: I think he has the ability to be a four-year starter to be honest with you. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and not too many kids come along with his work ethic. I mean he is a blue-collar, hard-working kid, and he raises the level of work in our program, and he raises the level of play of his teammates. The only other player I’ve coached who could match Isaiah’s intensity and work ethic was a Big Ten kid who played at Penn State and spent 14 years in the NFL, mainly with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tyoka Jackson, who is now on the Big Ten network. He’s the only one who worked like this kid Isaiah does. Isaiah is a character kid and he changes things when he’s around. Maryland is getting a great one. They already have Sean [Davis], and now they’re getting another great one in Isaiah.

TT:You said he changes things. Is there a play you can illustrate that demonstrates that?

BJ: If you watch his film, there’s a play against Bullis where he’s playing right defensive end, and [Bullis] makes a stretch run to the left side of the field. Well, Isaiah runs down the line of scrimmage, runs the kid down and makes the tackle on the opposite side of the field. That’s called desire, that’s called want-to, that’s called I don’t want to let my teammates down. That’s who he is.

TT:What’s Isaiah like off the field? What’s he like around his teammates?

BJ: He’s a comedian to tell you the truth. He’s a funny kid and real fun to be around. He has a great sense of humor and is always making his teammates smile. He’s real serious when he has to be and when he’s talking to you guys [the media], but around his teammates he’s really fun.

TT:Any stories you can tell to show that? Any funny little anecdotes?

BJ: Well, the image that comes to me when I think of Isaiah isn’t the jokes or the humor – it’s the seriousness on the field. I remember one of the first days he was here last summer, we had just finished practice and I had just met with my coaches and told them to go home. Isaiah was still out on the field running with a sled by himself. I said, ‘Isaiah, what are you still doing here?’ And he was like, ‘Coach, I have to have something for you before the [school-year] quarter starts.’ That’s Isaiah. This is a great kid from a great family. We’re going to miss him, but I’m happy he’s staying home at Maryland.

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