It's not just the name of a goofy looking horse mascot that finds its way on to the sideline of Florida State sporting events these days, it's also the Spanish word that "Seminoles" is derived from. It means "wild men."
And perhaps no term is a more apt description of Florida State junior safety Lamarcus Joyner.
The 5-9 195-pound safety came to FSU as a highly-touted recruit out of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas and immediately gravitated towards former Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops.
It was Stoops that was instrumental in teaching Joyner to harness what had been- up to that point- a raw, unbridled energy. Joyner is passionate about football, he loves the sport, however at times early in his career controlling that fire proved difficult.
But in Joyner, Stoops saw shades of another player he had mentored, former Miami Hurricanes safety Ed Reed. Over the past three years Joyner has learned to focus his athleticism and energy and dole it out in brutal doses to receivers, backs and QB's unfortunate enough to cross his path in the Seminole secondary.
Despite his compact size, Joyner plays safety like a heat-seeking missile. He comes into every game with a fire that threatens to rage out of control the moment he senses an opportunity to lay the wood on someone. He rarely misses that opportunity.
That could be bad news for Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, who opted to give Florida State some bulletin board material last week upon arriving in Miami.
"They're fast, they're physical, but they haven't seen anything like our offense," said Lynch. "We plan on wearing them down. In the fourth quarter, we plan to have them on their knees and then just keep pounding away."
While Florida State has been mostly diplomatic about the comments, Lamarcus Joyner is the last player that needs to be more fired up heading into a major game in front of his hometown crowd.
Joyner plays the game of football angry, he doesn't need to be cajoled, he gets up on his own. Now with his mentor gone to Kentucky to assume its head coaching job and an opposing quarterback willfully stirring the pot, Joyner's rage could potentially boil over in the Orange Bowl.
“I heard their quarterback says they have an up-tempo offense and that they are looking forward to running us into the grass," remarked Joyner yesterday after practice. "That’s all I know about the offense other than what I see on film. They've got some good football players or else they wouldn’t be 15th in the country or be in the Orange Bowl so we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Aside from the fact that Jordan Lynch probably didn't watch many Clemson games this year (the Tigers have a more balanced, higher scoring offense- and played better competiton), Lynch just painted a Lamarcus Joyner-sized target on his back.
And Joyner isn't amused.
“It makes football that much more interesting. When you put that bullseye on yourself, you have to be able to walk the talk. I respect it. I like it. I think it’s cute,” said Joyner sarcastically.
Cute is probably not what Lynch was going for, but you can be sure he'll need to have his head on a swivel come Tuesday night with Joyner looking to exact some punishment on him for what many around the Florida State program feel was hubris.
Joyner is a dynamic kick-returner and a bit of a ball-hawk, but even more than that he's a reputably big hitter. Oftentimes Joyner gets penalized for legal hits merely for the fact they happen at such a high rate of speed and with such brutality.
Hopefully for Jordan Lynch's sake, he won't be victimized by a Lamarcus Joyner decleater. But you can rest assured Joyner will be looking for him once the Orange Bowl kicks off.
Whether Joyner or Lynch ultimately back up their talk will be determined Tuesday night, but if the past is any indication, don't bet against Joyner. If there was any question as to whether he could focus his anger without Stoops patrolling the Florida State sideline, now the junior safety has somebody to focus that anger on.
That's good news for Seminole fans.