Daniel Joseph’s debut as a member of the NC State football team will have to wait an extra week because of a schedule change brought about by a COVID-19 outbreak on campus.
But that’s still not as long as he would have had to wait to play again had he still been at Penn State, which won’t be playing at all in 2020 because of the Big Ten’s decision to cancel the entire fall season.
It’s a reality of which the graduate transfer defensive end is all too aware.
“I definitely feel for those guys at Penn State because I know how hard they prepare and how hard those guys work as well,” he said during a virtual media conference Wednedsay. “To not have the opportunity to play and perform and showcase their abilities on the field, for me I definitely feel for them.”
As much as Joseph commiserates with his former teammates with the Nittany Lions, the coronavirus had nothing to do with his decision to leave.
It’s a decision he made back in February, nearly a month before the sports world was shut down by the still-raging pandemic.
It’s a decision that was driven by playing time rather than the ability to play.
A native of Canada who attended high school in Lake Forest, Ill., the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Joseph played in 32 games with the Nittany Lions, recording 29 tackles, 5.5 tackles for losses, five sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
But after playing in all 13 games in 2018, his role decreased considerably last season — seeing action in only three games.
“Being there for three and a half years and not yielding the results that I wanted personally coming in as a freshman, I felt like change was necessary for my own growth and my own development in terms of where I want to be and the places I want to get to,” the former four-star prospect said. “I figured a change was needed in some way, shape or form because I couldn’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.
‘I figured it was time for me to make a decision for myself and what I wanted for myself, and I decided to obviously enter the transfer portal.”
He ended up at State because of a relationship between Brent Pry, his former defensive coordinator at Penn State, and the Wolfpack’s new defensive line coach Charley Wiles, who worked with Pry at Virginia Tech from 1995-97.
“He had connections with them,” Joseph said of Pry. “So with that I got an opportunity here at NC State, and I took it and ran with it.”
Because he earned his undergraduate degree from Penn State in May, Joseph is eligible to play without sitting out a year under NCAA rules.
His arrival couldn’t have come at a better time for State.
He provides the Wolfpack with a veteran presence in a position group dealing with depth issues after losing two players to the NFL draft and two others to transfer since the end of last season.
He’s already become a mentor for younger defensive linemen Nick Booker-Brown, Claude Larkins and C.J. Clark.
“I wouldn’t really say that I’ve taken these guys under my wings, but we kind of motivate each other and push each other daily no matter what,” Joseph said. “Those are three guys that I think for sure I like to work with, to not just hold me accountable and make sure I still am pushing myself to get better, but also so that I do the same for them as well.”
While Joseph has already established himself as an important member of the Wolfpack, he’s still just feeling his way around Raleigh in general and State’s campus in particular because of the limitations put on him and his teammates by the coronavirus pandemic.
“For the most part it’s been football and my room. There hasn’t been much interaction with anyone else honestly, besides my team,” he said. “It’s been wake up in the morning, practice, same routine, finish up, come back and get to school right away.
“I’ve taken this time as an opportunity to better myself, not just athletically and academically, but even in my own personal interests. I think I’ve been able to do a lot more things than I would have been able to with that whole Raleigh experience and having that. I’ve been kind of grateful that I’ve been able to have this time to myself and have that tunnel vision to focus on whatever I need to focus on.”
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