Dakereon Joyner's selfless move to receiver makes South Carolina a more dangerous team
Six months ago, I made the case for Dakereon Joyner to switch to receiver.
That came after we found out that true freshman Ryan Hilinski earned “QB2” honors behind starter Jake Bentley for the beginning of the 2019 season. My argument that a switch to receiver made sense wasn’t based on the belief that Joyner lacked the ability to play quarterback. It was based on his situation.
What was going to give him the best chance to help South Carolina? And what could also give him the best chance at getting to the NFL? Switching to receiver.
Joyner, to his credit, began that transition last August as a redshirt freshman. The former 4-star quarterback recruit split time working with the receivers and the quarterbacks. We got to see him get snaps at receiver, but because of Bentley’s season-ending injury, Joyner became “QB2.” Whether it was Dan Werner having skepticism about how using the backup quarterback at receiver or being banged up in the middle of the season, Joyner only had 63 combined touches in 2019.
Tuesday, we found out that Joyner is now making the full-time switch to the outside. His South Carolina bio detailed that he’ll be focusing on receiver “full-time.”
“Versatile performer who is expected to focus full-time on the wide receiver position this spring after working at both quarterback and wide receiver last fall… talented with the ball in his hands.”
First of all, a tip of the cap to Joyner. A whole bunch of kids in his position would have transferred last year the second they found out they were passed up by a true freshman. Instead, he stuck it out. It’s one thing to say you’re all about the team. It’s another to switch positions like Lynn Bowden or Joyner did to legitimately benefit the team.
That’s what Joyner is going to do as a full-time receiver. He’s going to give South Carolina’s offense a weapon that it desperately needs.
Now before you tell me about this 4-star receiver recruit or that 4-star running back recruit, let’s just remind everyone of what we’re working with here. South Carolina ranked 104th of 130 FBS teams in scoring offense last year. The Gamecocks return just 1 wide receiver who had more than 20 catches or 175 receiving yards last year (Shi Smith). They also lost their 3 leading rushers. And they have a rising sophomore quarterback working with a new offensive coordinator.
In other words, the Gamecocks need all the help they can get. Joyner can be that help.
ESPN college football and recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill said nearly 2 years ago that Joyner wasn’t a quarterback — a comment that was met with heavy resistance from the South Carolina coaching staff — but that he had “Percy Harvin” type talent. Harvin was, of course, a unique weapon who played a major part in Florida winning the 2008 BCS National Championship. Luginbill added that “if (South Carolina) moves Dak Joyner to receiver, they’re going to have a great skill guy at their disposal for 3 to 4 years.”
Luginbill might have looked into the crystal ball a little earlier than the South Carolina coaching staff. Ultimately, Joyner wasn’t a fit to run Bryan McClendon’s offense. He wasn’t given the opportunity to make those throws on a consistent basis (that was even true when he replaced an injured Hilinski in the Georgia win).
But now, South Carolina is finally embracing the idea of having Hilinski and Joyner on the field together. The goal will be for Mike Bobo to dial up ways to get the ball in Joyner’s hands so that he can do what he does best — make people miss in the open field:
Dakereon Joyner is special with the ball in his hands.
— James (@GamecockSplash) September 7, 2019
South Carolina fans wouldn’t mind seeing more clips like that with Joyner celebrating a touchdown with Hilinski. The first time that Hilinski dumps a screen pass to Joyner and he takes it 65 yards to the house, you’ll hear South Carolina fans collectively say, “where has that been all my life?”
In a way, I started to wonder if Joyner’s situation was going to remind me of Deebo Samuel’s. It was Samuel who became a versatile weapon for the San Francisco 49ers as a rookie this past year, which prompted Gamecocks fans to wonder why he wasn’t used in the same capacity in the ground game at South Carolina. It was fair to start questioning if Joyner was ever going to get a chance to be used in the right way with the Gamecocks.
There’s no guarantee that Bobo turns to Joyner for 8-10 touches per game this year. Given how little we’ve seen of him at the position so far, it’d be surprising if he earned that kind of usage so soon.
Then again, South Carolina put a lot on his plate last year by asking him to transition to receiver while fulfilling his duties as a backup quarterback. What’s to say that Joyner can’t hit the ground running this year? I wouldn’t rule that out.
Joyner, with the combination of his skill set and selflessness, is a unique college football player in 2020.
Here’s hoping we finally get to see those unique talents on display in Columbia.