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Joseph has emerged as leader on banged up DL

AJ Trump and Joe Joseph have a running joke they share around campus and in the locker room. It was born from the bond they share as warriors in the trenches.

Joe Joseph "Wherever we go, he calls me the white Joe, and I call him the black AJ," said Trump, who arrived with Joseph as part of UM's 2004 signing class five years ago and whose locker on the road and at home is right next to Joseph's.

"We have similar shapes, same type of hair -- or lack of it -- and our personalities are scary similar."

Said Joseph: "When I had the beard, we really did look alike."

Black/white, offense/defense, Joseph has become an integral part of Miami's front line on defense as Trump has on offense. But like Trump, whose career was riddled with injuries early on, it took Joseph some time to get where he is today. And he might not have turned the corner without plenty of pushing from defensive line coach Clint Hurtt.

"When Joe was a redshirt freshman, hell, there was nobody that rode Joe harder [than me]," Hurtt said. "Nobody. He's a very prideful kid, a work hard kid, try hard kid. When he was freshman, I grinded on him to the point that it was, to him being personal.

"Sometimes it was. But the thing is, I knew this: I knew when he would become a junior or senior he was a guy that was going to be a leader and I needed him to understand what my expectations were of him and the standard I wanted him to hold the rest of the group to."

The pushing and prodding has paid off this season. No defensive lineman for the Hurricanes has been more consistent than the 6-3, 304-pound fifth-year senior from Orlando Oak Ridge. Joseph, who said he'll have 16 family members at Saturday night's game against UCF, leads all Canes defensive linemen in tackles (17) and the entire defense in tackles for loss (5 for minus 12 yards).

Last year, he made 17 tackles in 13 games and nine starts at left defensive tackle. As a sophomore, he started in five games and played in 10 and finished with 25 tackles.

"He's doing a great job for us," UM coach Randy Shannon said. "He's been here five years, kind of one of the older guys on the football team who has started to make some plays for us. He's always on the players about what the coaches ask them to do as far as technique and making them successful. He's a leader."

Joseph's growth spurt couldn't have come at a better time for the Canes. UM's defensive line has been decimated by injuries. The Canes, still undecided whether or not they will seek a medical redshirt for sophomore Marcus Forston, are down to four legitimate defensive tackles: Joseph, sophomore Micanor Regis, senior Josh Holmes and true freshman Curtis Porter, who burned his redshirt when he played against FAMU last week. Junior Allen Bailey, who began the season playing defensive tackle, has moved back out to end because of the shortage and injuries to that position.

Joseph said because of the injuries he's playing about five to 10 more snaps a game -- 35 to 40 total. But if you ask his teammates, his play hasn't tailed off.

"He's brought big time leadership from a senior, an older guy, what those guys needed," linebacker Colin McCarthy said.

"When you watch him on film, he's out there making plays -- big plays. Against Oklahoma, he had the penalty on the punt block, but came back and had the big hit in the backfield. I know he had like 3 1/2 tackles for loss against FAMU. The energy he's bringing is there, and we're feeding off it."

> Sophomore linebacker Jordan Futch tore his right ACL when his foot got caught in the grass while he was trying to tackle FAMU's LeRoy Vann Saturday night in the third quarter. Futch will have surgery in two weeks, but expects to be back in time for spring ball.

"It hurts us a lot," McCarthy said. "Special teams wise, he was on everything, making plays, making big plays. At linebacker, he was in there on the base package, playing the will. It's going to hurt us a lot. When a guy goes down, it gives an opportunity for another guy to step up. So Arthur Brown and Buchanon will get a shot."

> Shannon will provide plenty of lip service to get the four linebackers trying to fill Futch's spot to compete hard in practice this week. But the job is really sophomore Ramon Buchanon's to lose. Buchanon practiced with the regulars Tuesday according to several teammates while Arthur Brown, C.J. Holton and Kylan Robinson continued to work primarily with the scout team.

"[Ramon] is real athletic," McCarthy said. "He's a fast linebacker for us on the outside. He has a good idea. Some of the motion and stuff, he needs to learn. But he's in there wanting to learn. I think that's what coach Lovett likes about him. When Buchanon was in there, he really didn't miss a beat. He was in there making plays, making tackles. That's all coach Lovett can really ask for."

McCarthy and Sean Spence say Brown has improved. Spence said Brown made strides understanding "run fits and pass fits and knowing where to line up." But McCarthy said Brown still needs time before he's ready to start calling plays.

> Spence said Forston has taken his struggles and injuries this season "tough." On Sunday, UM coach Randy Shannon said it was likely Forston was done for the season. But reports have surfaced recently that might not happen. Here's what Forston's best friend had to say on Tuesday.

"I know he wants to play and what not, he's still trying to play," Spence said. "But he has to do what's best for him. He's not sure what he's going to do yet .He doesn't want to redshirt, but it's not his call."