Playing on both sides of the football is a demanding role to take on. It is physically taxing and not every player who plays both ways always finds success. Lorain Southview (OH) head football coach Tony Shoulders has two players who not only endure the stresses of playing both ways but have excelled as well.
LB Brain Joyner is gaining recognition from colleges for both his on-field performance and his performance in the classroom. Holding down a 3.0 GPA, Joyner plays both linebacker on defense (111 tackles last year) and guard on offense. He only needs to complete one more high school class requirement and is hoping to embark on his collegiate career a semester early in January.
"Brian has a nose for the ball," explains Coach Shoulders, "and he knows the game of football. It is almost like having a coach out there when he is calling the defense." Joyner has been surrounded by football his whole life. His dad is a coach, and he will be joining the Lorain Southview Saints coaching staff this upcoming season.
At 6'1", 230 pounds, college coaches like his speed (4.6 forty) and his hands. As Coach Shoulders puts it, "If he gets his hands on the ball, it will be intercepted." However, Coach Shoulders feels Joyner could be a little more patient when making his reads on defense. Schools showing the most interest in Joyner include all the Mid-American Conference schools, Kentucky, Purdue, and Ohio State.
Brian will be able to show off his skills to a greater extent this season when he will be playing the guard position on the offensive side of the ball. Due to many senior players graduating, Joyner may find himself on the field from the first snap of the game to the last; but Coach Shoulders knows Joyner is up for the challenge because the guard position is not new to him.
WR/DB Marqual Miller is another player for the Lorain Southview Saints who contributes his talents both on offense and defense. After a slow start out of the blocks last year, Marqual came on strong at the end of the season and has caught the eyes of coaches from Cincinnati, Ohio State, and all the Mid-American Conference schools.
Miller is an excellent receiver with good hands and a good eye for the ball. Defensively, he is a good return back with good speed. Coach Shoulders attributes Miller's slow start to his inexperience playing both ways. He feels fatigue was a major factor, which resulted in loss of concentration. However, Miller eventually became accustomed to and comfortable with the role he took on and stepped it up the second half of the season. This gives Coach Shoulders high hopes for the upcoming season.
After having their first winning season in 22 years, Coach Shoulders is optimistic about the upcoming season. Barely missing the playoffs last season, he intends on being a playoff contender this season with the help of his two most durable players, Brain Joyner and Marqual Miller.