April 21, 2009

Joyner talks connection with Berry, Vols

Add another talent to the seemingly innumerable football skills of University of Tennessee All-America safety Eric Berry: convincing recruiter.

Just ask a player in defensive back LaMarcus Joyner who's elicited some comparisons to Berry with his uncanny instincts, undeniable physical skill and unrelenting work ethic.

"I met (Berry) like 5 minutes after stepping onto campus. He's a guy like someone I want to be, someone I see myself being like in the future," said Joyner, the five-star defensive back and nation's No. 7 2010 player according to Rivals.com, who visited UT last weekend. "A humble man, who can make it to the (National Football) League and be a great man. He's fired up and ready in practice, and he reminds me of myself.

"You could tell that" Tennessee targeted him as a priority with Berry's role, Joyner said. "It showed a lot. They had to tell him about me, and the way he introduced himself, it says a lot about how much Tennessee wants me.

"(Berry) knew I was coming and am one of the No. 1 prospects in South Florida, No. 1 on Tennessee's board in the secondary. He asked me how school is going at St. Thomas. It was almost as if he was recruiting me, too."

Despite coming in somewhat late on the recruitment of Joyner, who holds offers from virtually every major program in the country, Tennessee has wedged into the battle for the 5-foot-9, 165-pounder from Miami who's been a combine and workout phenom.

"Like I told the coaches, Tennessee was one of those schools that came in not late but kind of late because my recruitment was getting real heated and they came in after a lot of big-time colleges," Joyner said. "But they came with that fire. I was expecting to see that atmosphere that the coaches had talked about and that fan base. I'll tell you one thing, they got all that. It was a great atmosphere. The guys who are already there and the guys who already have signed in the class of 2009, some great guys. I just liked it. The whole thing was fun."

And while Joyner felt an instant connection with Berry after meeting the Vols' junior star and potential 2009 Heisman Trophy candidate, he also has been connecting with Tennessee's South Florida recruiting extraordinaire, Eddie Gran.

"Man, he is a great guy," Joyner said of Gran, a Miami-area recruiting staple who's also renowned for his skills as a running backs and special teams instructor. "He's always hyped. He's kind of got an attitude like me, where he's ready to go and ready to see action."

Already having formed a relationship with Gran, Joyner likewise got see that the remainder of the Vols' staff also presents tremendous energy.

"All of them have got that fire. Especially coach Monte Kiffin, to be an old guy and an old legendary guy, he's still got that fire like he's 25 out there." Joyner said.
Joyner, who will visit one more school in the coming days and then reevaluate his recruitment, left Knoxville with a newfound fire to return.

"I'm glad I went there. I also went to Tallahassee (Florida State), Alabama, and I've one more school, Ohio State, to evaluate," Joyner said. "After that, I'll have all the schools that are laid on the table for me. Me making that decision (to check out UT), I was glad to visit. That definitely jumped them off in my top five again.

"Tennessee is definitely going to be an official visit. I have to go back on that campus."

Joyner, who indicated he will commit after playing in next year's Under Armour All-American contest, is a five-star prospect who is the No. 1 cornerback in the nation, according to Rivals.com and comes in at No. 7 on the Rivals100 list.

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