South Carolina freshman quarterback Dakereon Joyner gets it. Some people don’t think he can play quarterback in college.
The former 4-star recruit from Fort Dorchester High School (North Charleston, S.C.) has a resume that says otherwise. Joyner, who was 40-3 as the starting quarterback, passed for nearly 10,000 yards, was the 2017 Mr. Football, 2016 Gatorade Player of the Year, an Elite 11 participant and a state champion in 2015.
Nonetheless, there’s a handful of folks who don’t see him carrying that success into the SEC. Maybe he should move to wide receiver, or running back or play defense, they say.
If anything, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound quarterback just might want to tell them thanks — thanks for the ammunition.
“It kind of motivates me,” Joyner said.
Before committing to South Carolina, Virginia Tech was one of the primary contenders for Joyner, who was able to connect with former Hokies quarterback Tyrod Taylor during a visit to Blacksburg.
Taylor, now a quarterback in the NFL the Buffalo Bills, once faced similar sorts of doubts about his future as a quarterback. In fact, he still does.
“Just take it in and let it motivate you,” Joyner said of Taylor’s message. “People are going to talk, but don’t doubt yourself.
“When you doubt yourself, then you start playing poorly.”
In the same shoes, kind of
Perry Orth knows what it’s like to have people think he wasn’t good enough. The former walk-on quarterback turned South Carolina starter had the odds stacked against him the day he stepped foot in Columbia.
Orth is a testament that motivation can be one helluva drug.
Joyner, who’s trained with Orth and QB1 Athletics, has received sage wisdom from the former Gamecocks signal caller-turned-quarterbacks coach.
“Work harder than your competition. That’s plain and simple. It’s cliche, but that’s how I got on the field,” Orth said. “I just worked harder than the other guys that we had on the team, at the time. That’s why I ended up on the field. I’m not bragging, that’s just fact.
“Study tape, and it’s not just working hard means watching five hours of tape. You’ve got to watch tape. You’ve got to work out, so your body will be conditioned to play. You’ve got to throw. You’ve got to do your footwork. You’ve got to eat right and get sleep. You’ve got to do everything above and beyond your competition, because that’s what you’ve got to do at this level.”
The reality of it
As confident as he is, Joyner will be the first to admit that there are plenty of things for him to work on as a quarterback. He’s grounded enough to understand why others think he should play another position.
“I think people just say that because he’s a runner. … He’s got a really good motion. He throws the ball really well,” Orth said. “He’s very athletic. He’s light on his feet. That’s everything you want in a quarterback.”
If anything, it almost doesn’t help his case that Joyner is a really good athlete.
At The Opening last spring in Charlotte, N.C., he ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.64. His shuttle was clocked at 4.14 and he jumped almost 35 inches in the vertical. The 40-time was bested by just seven other quarterbacks who were tested around the country by The Opening’s staff.
According to Orth, who’s been inside an SEC quarterback meeting room, there’s more to playing the position than combine numbers and a performance in shorts and a T-shirt on a nice spring day in the Queen City.
“Now, the only question with him that I have and it’s with every incoming quarterback,” Orth said. “It has nothing to do with Kereon or any of the next guys, it has to do with — is he going to be able to grasp it, mentally?
Let’s get it going, let’s get it started
Joyner was one of 13 signees who arrived to South Carolina’s campus earlier this month for the spring semester. In December, before playing in the Shrine Bowl and Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, Joyner detailed his initial plans for life as a Gamecock.
“Just be the best I can possibly be,” he said. “Lead by example, lead vocally and just do me. Don’t try to do some things that I’m not. Just be me.”
With Joyner now on the roster, South Carolina’s quarterback room now has four scholarship players: Jake Bentley, the starter for the previous 20 games, plus the backups, Michael Scarnecchia and Jay Urich.
When spring ball starts in a few weeks, Joyner wants to “just get reps.”
“The biggest thing for me is to just learn,” he said.