Kevin Kinder\BlueGoldNews.com

West Virginia safety Karl Joseph's time as a Mountaineer is over after a knee injury

West Virginia had avoided the injury bug through the first four games of the 2015 season, but that streak came to a crushing end when senior safety Karl Joseph sustained a season-ending knee injury in practice.

Karl Joseph, a leader on the West Virginia defense, injured his right knee during practice on Tusday and will miss the remainder of the season.

“I am devastated and heartbroken for Karl,” WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He is a young man who has given everything he has to our football program and University over the past four years and who elected to return to WVU for his senior season to earn his degree and to be a part of something special with this team.  He exemplifies what it means to be a Mountaineer.  Karl is an All-American, a fierce competitor, a leader and I know he will have a full recovery, and I can’t wait to watch him on Sundays next fall.”

In addition to ending his West Virginia career, Joseph's injury leaves a gaping hole in the Mountaineer secondary. West Virginia could go in one of several different directions in replacing Joseph, but no matter the move, it is unlikely to be able to match his production and intensity. The Mountaineers could go directly to backup Jarrod Harper, who is a regular on special teams and on some of West Virginia's pass package defenses, but it could also shuffle players from other positions. Jeremy Tyler who backs up K.J. Dillon at the spur, could slide over if he is familiar enough with the spot.
Joseph's absence could also radically affect those third down packages. West Virginia has routinely been substitution four or five players in passing situations, with Joseph manning what amounts to a linebacker spot in some of those sets. His ability to defend against the run in those instances will be sorely missed, as WVU doesn't have another player with his combination of size, speed and physicality. With just a couple days of practice left before Saturday's Oklahoma State game, the Mountaineers will be scrambling to rebuild its sets, many of which revole around the skills of Joseph and Dillon at the bandit and spur positions.

One of the greatest Mountaineers to ever wear the Gold and Blue, Joseph has started all 42 games of his career and logged an incredible 3,388 plays, including 2,980 on defense. He has produced 284 tackles, including 209 solo stops, 16.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, nine interceptions, 14 pass breakups, eight forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.

Joseph, a first team All-Big 12 performer in 2014, is known nationally for his hard-hitting and aggressive defensive ability. He was having an outstanding year to date, playing at an All-American level, leading the nation in interceptions (5), No. 23 in passes defended and No. 27 in fumbles recovered. This season, he is No. 2 on the Mountaineer defense in tackles with 20, including 15 solo stops. He also has a sack, two tackles for loss, a pass breakup and a fumble recovery.

“I want to thank my teammates and my coaches for their outpouring of support,” Joseph said. “This has been difficult for me and my family but I know I will come through this stronger than ever.  I will forever be a Mountaineer and will be cheering on our team every step of the way.”

 Joseph was named National Player of the Week by the Football Writers Association of America, Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in game one against Georgia Southern. He was awarded the game ball by Holgorsen after putting up eight tackles, had three interceptions in the third quarter and recovered a fumble.

 He finished second the team with 92 tackles as a junior and led WVU as a sophomore with four fumble recoveries, ranking No. 2 nationally. He also had 68 tackles, five pass breakups and three tackles for loss. Joseph was named a freshman All-American and WVU’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 after leading the Mountaineers in tackles (104), solo tackles (76) and tied for the team lead in forced fumbles (3) and interceptions (2).

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