Robert Joseph: 'Always Around The Ball'

Texas commit Robert Joseph will never forget the day he earned his starting job in the Port Arthur Memorial secondary. It happened during his first head-on collision with once-and-future teammate RB Jamaal Charles.

"It was our first time in pads during spring ball (2004)," Joseph recalled. "Jamaal might not want to admit it but I gave him the hardest hit of his career."

So much for short memories among D-backs. Even so, there's no shortage of swagger in this multi-talented ball hawk. DBs will be a priority in Texas' 2007 recruiting class. Until then, Horn fans can look forward to Joseph shoring up safety depth in the secondary. Then again, there's not many places where the First-Team All-Stater hasn't played.

The 6-2, 190-pounder played QB until his sophomore season and took some snaps behind center during his Hurricane-shortened senior season. He was also the first RB off the bench to replace current Horn Charles when the two were high school teammates. (In fact, Joseph started the two games that Charles missed in 2004 and rushed for 800+ yards in cameo appearances.) He is projected as a DB, probably at FS, he reported before adding, "What they told me is that if you go there you have to learn every position (in the secondary)."

Given the quick turnaround between holding down spots on both sides of the ball, it comes as no surprise that Joseph's nickname is Scooter. However, the moniker precedes his prep star days.

"Nobody calls me Robert," he laughed. "I can't remember how I got that name. I've just always had it. My family, teachers, coaches: everybody calls me Scooter. I think it comes from when I was young. I was always running around outside."

Joseph said he doesn't care where he plays as long as he gets a piece of the action.

"I've got to be always around the ball," he said. "I can't see me in a game just looking at a play over there with me over here. I've got to be in on the play. I'm just a football player. I played quarterback. I played safety. I played running back. Whatever the coach asked me to do, I just played whatever position had to be played. I love football. I just give it my best. If someone says, 'Go play receiver', in my mind I'm not thinking, 'I don't know this spot.' Whatever that position is, I'm gonna play my hardest."

Joseph was weaned on Longhorn football, enjoying the likes of Ricky Williams and Cedric Benson during his formative years. At the same time, he reports that Co-Defensive Coordinator/DB coach Duane Akina was also a selling point.

"I like his coaching technique. I can play for a guy like that. He really pushes you to do your best. He's not just a laid back coach who watches you. He makes you do better. That's the kind of guy that I like to play for. He'll get on a walk-on the same way he gets on Michael Huff. "

Joseph recorded 133 tackles during his junior campaign, prompting Memorial DBs coach Curtis Viola to reflect, "There's no way you can make 130 tackles in 11 games ant not get it. He is always around the ball. He will knock the s--- out of you. I know he'll be just a freshman and the level of athletes that he'll be up against at Texas. But, like Jamaal Charles, there's no way they can keep him off the field."

It was enough to catch the attention of DE Coach Oscar Giles who recruits the Port Arthur area. Joseph attended a Junior Day in Austin early last spring, resulting in the phone call that changed his life.

"Coach Giles called and said, 'I've got somebody who wants to talk to you.' It was Mack Brown and he offered me a scholarship right there. It was overwhelming. I'm from an urban area, the inner city. You don't get too many shots like this. It was like it wasn't real. It was like a dream."

Since then, Joseph received offers from UCLA, Texas A&M and LSU but the only 'official' he took was to Texas' annual football banquet in December.

"I didn't even see those schools," he added. "The best high school football is played in the state of Texas. I wanted to stay home and play for them."

He almost didn't see his senior season. Hurricane Rita forced his family to evacuate to Shreveport just before the eye of the storm passed approximately 25 miles east of his hometown. Following the long weekend, Joseph's family relocated to a hotel in College Station, leaving him to wonder what would become of his senior year. Players began to contact each other by cell phone and many of them, including Joseph ventured back to Port Arthur without their families to try and salvage something of their season.

In Rita's aftermath, Port Arthur looked like "a war zone," Joseph said. Many of the homes were uninhabitable. Electricity was not fully restored. And, to this day, Joseph's high school stadium remains 'condemned' by city officials due to the structural damage.

"All I had was my bags and a key to my apartment. Man, it just threw me. Everything was messed up. I came to practice but after practice I had no where to go."

Still, players trickled back to town in late September and moved in with teammates whose homes still had a roof. Port Arthur managed to play three district games, winning two of them. All told, Joseph recorded

80 tackles (54 solo) in six ballgames. And, through it all, it was a comfort to know that his college scholarship was secure.

Mack Brown's Signing Day press conference is set for 3:30 p.m., Wednesday.

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