Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas defensive back Lamarcus Joyner is one of the highest rated football players in America and is being courted by college coaches from all across the land.
Joyner is also one of the most mature and articulate high school students you will ever meet, as is evidenced by his answers in this interview.
Greene: Lamarcus, you are one of the more heavily recruited players in the country. At what point do you shut down recruiting and concentrate on your duties at St. Thomas Aquinas?
Joyner: "You know what? I'm already doing that. Personally, I feel that the recruiting process has not interfered with my responsibilities at St. Thomas. Starting last spring, my work in the classroom proved that. I'm focused on my senior year and helping my teammates achieve their goals. I'm not doing as many interviews lately and I'm not fielding as many calls."
Greene: Is it a question of being intelligent about how many interviews or how many phone calls you field?
Joyner: "Exactly. I control the situation. Things started to get to me a little bit, but I have things back on track now. I've been pressured by coaches pushing for a commitment or by writers asking the same questions day after day, but I have to decide who to speak to and when to go into hiding a little bit. At the same time I know how blessed I am and I know there are a thousand high school players who would love to be in my shoes, so I can't shut it down completely. I never want to come across as being above people."
Greene: Do you know exactly what your role will be with St. Thomas Aquinas this season?
Joyner: "I just know that they're going to use me a lot [laughing]. I love being at St. Thomas. I love my head coach. Coach [George] Smith and I had a long talk this past week. He said he's never seen a transfer come to St. Thomas and show the attitude and leadership that I've shown, both in the weight room and on the field. Coming from a legend like Coach Smith means the world to me. The team has voted me as a captain so I've got a lot of responsibility at St. Thomas. I really love what I have at St. Thomas."
Greene: It has to make you feel good to earn praise from a man like George Smith.
Joyner: "You have no idea. Coach Smith doesn't have to say anything to me that isn't the truth, because they don't need me. I need them. Coach Smith has put people in the league so he knows what he's talking about. Earning praise from him really touches my heart because I look up to him so much. I think so much of him that he's a very important part of my life."
Greene: With your obvious admiration for St. Thomas, do you ever look back and wish you had more than just one year to be at St. Thomas?
Joyner: "Oh man, I tell people all the time that I wish I had been at St. Thomas for the past four years. I mean look at my defensive back teammates like Cody Riggs and Keion Payne. We might be the best defensive backfield in the history of Florida high school football. Then we have guys like Brandon Linder and Giovani Bernard and they are legitimate stars. I feel real good being around my teammates and I trust them on and off the field. Instead of crying about not being here for four years, I choose to thank God for the time I have left here."
Greene: What about having an assistant coach like former NFL great Cris Carter? How has he helped you?
Joyner: "Coach Carter is so great and he knows this game inside and out. I love Coach Carter because he's shown me a lot about playing wide receiver and they know I want to play both ways. He coaches me a lot on how to mentally play the game and not just depend on my talent to carry me. I have a great defensive backs coach here also, so I have no excuses about how I play this year. It's all on me."
Greene: Now you know I can't interview one of the top recruits in the country without touching on recruiting, so tell me where things stand today.
Joyner: "[Laughing] Oh, I knew you would get around to recruiting. I'm headed to Florida for Friday Night Lights and I'm excited to get up there. I've told myself all week that I'm not going to work out up there, but you know I think I'm gonna take my cleats just in case I get caught up in the moment [laughing]. I don't think Florida can turn my head about being recruited there but you never know. I've been there five times before, so I'm pretty familiar with everything they have to offer. It will be cool to touch base with those coaches because they're great guys."
"You might have heard I was up at Florida State recently [laughing]. I love Florida State and I had a great time up there. My thing is I'm not going to make a decision off a fun trip. This is a business decision, a life decision, and I only get one choice to get it right. I've said Florida State is my No. 1 school right now but that could change tomorrow. I love those coaches and I grew up with Florida State in my heart. I truly loved being around those guys, but there was no silent commitment to Florida State. I told them the same thing I told the other schools - that I'm not ready to make a decision right now. I think the Florida State coaching staff respects that and I appreciate them for that."
"Then there is Ohio State, and I think the world of Ohio State. Everybody that knows me knows how I feel about that program. The thing about Ohio State is I know if I go there I will be set for life. It's not just about football either. Ohio State is a special place where I can mature as a man and as a player. I love Ohio State. I truly love that program. The coaching staff at Ohio State is made up of a group of men that are great leaders and I couldn't think of them any higher than I do. They are right there as my No. 2 school."
"Georgia is my third school right now. Georgia is a place that I love those coaches. Coach [Mark] Richt is a great man, a man of God, and I respect that so much. I see a great opportunity to be successful there. Georgia saw my talent before anyone, before I had the high ranking. I will always consider Georgia and they will be in it right to the end."
"USC is my No. 5 school at this time. They have the glamour and there's Hollywood and all that. They put players in the show and I think a lot of Pete Carroll. USC has everything that can help me achieve what I want. Frankie Telfort is a friend of mine and he's out there, so I could hang with him should I go there. Distance isn't a huge factor for me but USC is in another part of the country and that concerns me a little bit."
"Let's not forget Alabama, my No. 4 school. Nick Saban is my guy because he IS the NFL. He knows that league and he can help me get there. Some people might not like Coach Saban, they say he's cocky, but I think the man is great. If you do right by him, he will do right by you. I'd love to be a part of the Tide program should I decide to go there. Coach Saban is bringing them back to where they used to be, and as long as he's there they are going to be at the top."
Greene: Have you set up any official visits to any of these schools yet?
Joyner: "I only have one official visit set up and that is to Ohio State. I'm going up there to see the USC game. That should be a cool time in Columbus. I'm not sure about taking an official to Florida State. I want to see the other schools first because I've been to Florida State a lot on unofficial visits. I might save an official for another school not in my top five. I will more than likely visit five schools, but I only have the one visit set right now."
Greene: What about a possible commitment date? I've heard you say before the season, during the season, or maybe even on signing day?
Joyner: "I'm becoming more and more a person of faith and I've been reading the Bible a lot lately. I believe that everything has its time. I don't want to make an impulsive decision, or get caught up in what my heart is telling me. When I know the time is right, I will announce my decision. I'm trying to use wisdom to make the right decision, both about what school and what time. When I have completed my personal evaluations of each school it will be time to make my choice public."
Greene: I don't want to get too personal, but I'd like you to tell me about your family in whatever you feel comfortable sharing.
Joyner: "It all starts and ends with my mom. My mom is the reason I am the person I am today, whether it was tough love or pure love. I learned that if you did the wrong thing you got punished, but if you did the right thing you didn't necessarily get rewarded because that's what you were supposed to do anyway. I love the way my mom raised me and I'm so happy she can experience the nice things happening to me. Some of her older kids haven't always done the right thing so I'm trying to be a success for her. She just wants to see me get a college degree and she won't try to influence my decision. She just wants me to get that college degree and I will do that. She will support me all the way, no matter what school I choose."
Greene: What does your mom think of her son being one of the top recruits in the country?
Joyner: "She pretty much doesn't follow the recruiting and the rankings and that stuff. My uncle prints stuff off for her and she loves reading it. I know how proud of me she is and I know how much happiness I bring her. That means everything to me. Nothing makes me feel better in the whole world than seeing my mama with a big smile on her face."
Greene: What about your relationship with your father?
Joyner: "Up through my freshman year my dad came to every one of my games, but then he and my mom split up. Things got kind of rough during my sophomore year and we didn't speak for a while. About a month ago my dad and I had a man-to-man talk and I think we understand each other a lot better now. Every situation in life won't always go the way we want it to, so I've learned that at an early age. I just keep on pushing toward my goals and I won't let anything stop me from being successful. I can say honestly that my dad and I are good right now and that's a good thing. We speak about twice a week right now and things are getting better every week between us."
Greene: As you head into your senior season, what can we expect from Lamarcus Joyner in 2009?
Joyner: "When Coach Smith tells me that he's never had a transfer fit in so well in one year, that drives me to be better than even I ever thought I could be. When they talk about me being a captain, it makes me want to give more than I thought I could give to my team. I'm with great players like Gio Bernard, Keion Payne and Cody Riggs, and I know they've been here for four years. I respect those guys so much and I know I have to stay humble and do more work than I've ever done before. But at the same time I didn't come to St. Thomas Aquinas to just fit in. I came here to be a great player, but a team player first. The best way to describe me is to say that I'm a 'Yes' man. I want to be positive to my coaches, my teammates, my teachers and to all of the great fans of St. Thomas. I'm going to give them my heart and my soul because I know how blessed I am to be in the situation I'm in. God has given me so much and I intend to make the most of it."