This year's linebacking crew has the least amount of depth since the South Florida joined the Big East, yet it could be USF's most talented group ever. One of the up-and-comers that the staff is counting on is Sabbath Joseph. Originally from Miami Central, the redshirt sophomore will be an integral part in this year's defensive scheme. Even though he's not expected to start he will still play a key role, Wally Burnham loves to substitute and keep his defense fresh especially when playing at home in the Florida heat.
Last year the 6-foot, 230 pound LB played mostly on special teams where he made an impact, recording 14 solo tackles. This year he will be backing up senior Tyrone McKenzie at the SAM position.
"I worked hard this off season." Said Joseph, "I finished the season at 220 pounds, now I'm up to 230. Good weight, all lean-muscle, I've been working hard since the season ended."
After the season ended Sabbath went home to Miami while on Christmas break and worked with his former high school coach Tony Saunders. Saunders coached Sabbath, who was named to the 2005 6A All-First Team, recording 68 tackles and 11 sacks in his senior year.
"I've got one thing on my mind – just getting better to win a position out here."
On the field Sabbath is a natural and gifted athlete, but off the field he says he has struggled emotionally after the death of Sean Taylor, a tragedy that hit close to home for Joseph.
"It had a big effect on me."
"Growing-up I always looked up to Sean Taylor. Not only as a football player but also as a person. I loved his demeanor and the way he carries himself."
When hearing the news of Taylor's passing, Joseph says it hit hard because his good friend is a cousin of Taylor's and being from Miami, Joseph saw Taylor as a role model and an example of how to do it the "right way".
"I've been trying to see if I can keep the legend of his going and change my number from 43 to 21."
Joseph has also paid tribute to Taylor on his Facebook page. Most kids have a picture of themselves on their page, instead, Sabbath has had this picture up since the passing of Taylor:
The biggest change for Sabbath this off season has been his out-look on school and life. He recognizes there is more out there than just football.
"It changed me in a big way. Life is a vapor. Like coach Leavitt always says, ‘here today, gone tomorrow – you can't take anything for granted'. Whether it's in the classroom or out, I give my all because you never know…"
Through all of this, football is the one constant that has kept him focused during the tough times. Instead of dwelling on the negatives Joseph has spun it as a positive and chose to work even harder to achieve his dream of playing in the NFL.
"One thing I've changed is my discipline. You can't be great or have success without discipline." Adding, "I've also committed to being more mentally focused, as many reps as we do on the field, I try to match that in my head, mentally."
All these changes, Sabbath says, have made him a better team player and in-turn will help the guys around him.
"We might be thin on depth, but the linebackers are one big family. There is fierce competition, but there is no animosity. We are all pushing each other and the best guys plays, its pretty simple."
After a good year on special teams as a freshman, Sabbath is looking to take his game to the next level and show the staff he's ready to contribute and make the Bulls a better team.
"My number one goal is just to improve. I played well last year and now it's time to get on the field and make it happen."
Sabbath Joseph has a new outlook in '08
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