Living His Dream

The University of Miami was involved in a heated recruiting battle with Florida last winter for the services of defensive lineman Joe Joseph. The talented lineman had taken official visits to both programs before making a final choice.

"It was a tough decision back then," Joseph said. "I remember thinking a little more about Florida but then some of the coaches from Miami came to visit with me and they really sold me on everything. At that point, I knew inside my heart that I was going to be a Hurricane."

Like the other players in last year's class, Joseph signed his National Letter of Intent with UM on national signing day in February.

"I kept working out hard during the spring because I knew how difficult things were going to be once I had gotten into Miami," he said. "After I graduated I started working out with the team over the summer. I was just trying to keep up to show those guys that I could play there. It was tough at first but then I started catching on."

Then Joseph received bad news.

"The people from the ACT called and told me that my score had been cancelled," he said. "I guess because I raised it so much they thought I had cheated or something crazy like that. Because it was so close to the start of school, I really didn't have much of a choice so I left Miami without knowing what might happen."

Joseph returned home and began going over his options. After scoring a 19 on the ACT, which he thought would make him a full qualifier, he was preparing to take the test again.

"I actually got a 16 the first time I re-took it," he said. "I couldn't believe I had scored lower than the last time but I hadn't been studying for it as much and plus I got really bored when I took it that time. I was kinda frustrated at the whole situation by then too."

The college football season had kicked off by then. While the other players from his class were already enrolled in school and beginning to fulfill their dreams, Joseph was at home waiting on his test scores to come back.

"When I got them back the first team I was real excited," he said. "I could hardly wait to see what I had scored."

Bad news, again. Joseph had obtained a score of just 16, which left him one point shy of the score he needed to get back into UM.

"I was mad by then so I really focused and ended up getting a 17 on the second one," he said. "The scores were sent to Miami so they could do whatever was necessary."

By that time, however, Joseph began having second thoughts about becoming a Hurricane.

"I was starting to think that maybe this was a message that Miami might not be the best place," he said. "I started looking real hard at Florida again."

After Joseph had received a passing test score, which would enable him to start school in January, he was ready to go in a different direction.

"I had asked Miami for my release papers," he said. "Even though it wasn't Miami's fault, I just didn't think that's where I belonged anymore. We never had a problem with the admissions at Miami or anything, it was the ACT people. When I went down to sign the papers, I just got that certain vibe about Miami again. I once again realized why Miami was No. 1 in my heart from the beginning. I just realized that is where I needed to be. I gave them my word and now that I had a chance to fulfill it, I wasn't about to go somewhere else."

After a couple months and lots of paperwork later, Joseph officially received word recently that he is now a Hurricane.

"Everything's final now," he said. "I got everything signed with Jeff Merk, their academic advisor. He was great the whole time. The coaching staff never gave up on me. Coach Soldinger continued recruiting me and they seemed real happy that I'm coming back. This is what was meant to be."

The talented defensive lineman says he's kept in good shape throughout the last several months and is very excited about becoming a Hurricane.

"I leave for Miami next Friday and I'll start school on the 18th," he said. "I know a dude from Texas tried doing the same thing but he wasn't able to get in so he's headed to Texas A&M. (Antonio Dixon) should be coming in August because he's at a prep school, mainly because he had problems with his core grades. My problem was with the ACT. My GPA was good, it's just that I needed to re-take the test."

Now 6-3 and 275 pounds, Joseph feels like he's in top shape.

"I got the workout guide that Miami gave me," he said. "I've been doing that and also working out on my own at my old high school. I'm going to start out playing tackle. I'll be there for all of spring and summer so hopefully I'll be able to go down there and help out right away."

While he dealt with all the academic stuff this past season, Joseph remained a big Canes fan.

"I rooted for them all year," he said. "I was really upset when they lost to Virginia Tech. It was a down year. We'll be back. We just lost too many guys to the NFL and it finally caught up with our depth chart. We're only losing about a dozen players this year so mostly everyone's back -- especially on defense. We're gonna be tight."

Joseph tuned in to watch last week's Peach Bowl and was happy with the outcome.

"I'm so glad they beat up on Florida," he said. "Early on it looked like a defensive battle but our big play guys took over. I'm glad Devin Hester's coming back next season."

In closing, Joseph is extremely excited about the future.

"I'm so happy," he said. "I'm a Hurricane and now I get to live out my dream."

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