Florida State University Seminoles
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
St. Thomas Aquinas High School
Southwest Miami High School
One thing is certain through the constant change during his football career – Joyner will embrace any opportunity and take on any challenge with enthusiasm. The constant change has seen him excel as a boundary cornerback as a freshman, before taking over free safety chores the following year. As a junior, he slid over one spot to play strong safety at 195 pounds, then, he closed out his career as the Seminoles' field cornerback.
Joyner's versatility creates a "pleasant" problem for his future employer, as his production at each four positions provides teams with a player who can plug in anywhere on the field until he can find the right role to settle under. Teams will also find that the FSU product is what his coaches call "a football junkie" who watches more game tapes than even the Seminoles staff.
That could explain his ability to adapt to the variety of roles, often switching positions during the course of the game to give the secondary its best match-ups. He is very skillful at reading the quarterback's eyes and has an uncanny ability to read route combinations working in the zone, allowing him to be perfectly comfortable playing inside at safety. He also displays the fluid hips, quick feet and explosive acceleration coming out of his breaks to handle the speedy receivers down the sidelines in man coverage.
The Miami, Florida native originally attended Southwest Miami High School, where he played three seasons on the varsity at linebacker and defensive back as well as wide receiver and kick returner. As a sophomore, he had more than 100 tackles and accounted for more than 1,000 yards on offense. In his junior year, he recorded 112 tackles, four sacks and an interception.
That season, Joyner also scored five touchdowns on special teams - four via kickoffs and one on a punt return. Offensively, he had 17 receptions for 482 yards and seven touchdowns. He then decided to transfer to St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a private school and football powerhouse coached by George Smith.
Featuring talented running backs Giovani Bernard and James White, St. Thomas Aquinas went undefeated through the season, extending a win-streak that began in 2007 to 37 wins, until losing 28–20 to Manatee High School in a Class 5A state semifinal at Hawkins Stadium in Bradenton, Florida.
For his senior season, Joyner contributed as a shut-down cornerback, recording only 14 tackles (12 solos) as opponents stayed away from his side of the field. He also starred on special teams, as he averaged 39.6 yards per return and managed to return three kickoffs for scores. On offense, he recorded 1,090 all-purpose yards on just 79 touches, scoring four rushing and four receiving touchdowns.
Joyner's impact on the defensive side, however, earned him the National Defensive Player of the Year award by USA Today. He would later become the fourth USA Today National Defensive Player of the Year to sign with Florida State, joining Derrick Brooks, David Warren and Antonio Cromartie.
Despite lacking prototypical size, Joyner was regarded as a five-star recruit. With offers from virtually every school in the country, Joyner took official visits to only Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Florida State, before committing to the Seminoles in early December 2009.
Joyner was the highest-rated Florida State recruit of the season, along with Christian Jones. As a true freshman, he played in all 14 games and finished with 23 tackles, two pass break-ups and one interception, mostly playing behind Xavier Rhodes at boundary cornerback. On special teams, he gained 329 yards on 16 kickoff returns.
During spring practice of his sophomore year, Joyner was moved into the starting line-up at free safety, a position at which he started all 13 games of the season. He recorded 54 tackles, adding two stops-for-loss, one sack, and three pass break-ups on the year, which earned him All-Atlantic Coast Conference second-team honors. He also set a school season-record, averaging 30.54 yards on 13 kickoff returns.
In his junior season, Joyner again started all 14 games at safety, only this time, he took over the strong-side position. He finished sixth on the team with 51 tackles that included 1.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He intercepted one pass and broke up five others. On special teams, he ran back 18 kickoffs for a 23.56-yard average that included a 90-yarder vs. Clemson.
As a senior, Joyner recorded 69 tackles, second-best on the team, taking over field cornerback duties. He had a career-high 5.5 sacks, the most for any defensive back in the Atlantic Coast Conference, along with seven stops behind the line of scrimmage, along with a trio of pressures and three forced fumbles.
The All-American, All-ACC and Thorpe Award finalist averaged 22.0 yards as a kickoff returner, adding three forced fumbles and 5.5 sacks. He also returned two interceptions for 20 yards and deflected four passes in 13 starting assignments. He was later named a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award, given to the nation's top defensive player.
Joyner started 40-of-55 games at Florida State – 13 at free safety, 14 at strong safety and 13 at "field" cornerback…Recorded 197 tackles (128 solos) with 6.5 sacks for minus 57 yards and 10.5 stops for losses of 71 yards…Credited with three quarterback pressures and three forced fumbles…Deflected 15 passes and intercepted eight others for 80 yards in returns…Ranks second in school history with an average of 24.23 yards on 52 kickoff returns for 1,260 yards, topped by only Greg Reid (24.65-yard average; 63 for 1,553; 2009-11)…His average of 30.54 yards per kickoff return in 2011 broke the previous FSU season record of 30.09 yards by Michael Ray Garvin (22 for 622; 2008).