Athlete of the Week: Fort Dorchester's Dakereon Joyner

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - This week's Athlete of the Week already has a scholarship offer from South Carolina before ever playing a single down of varsity football.

Fort Dorchester has plenty of current professionals who started as Patriots, many of whom were coached by Steve Laprad.

But 14-year-old Dakereon Joyner could be better than all of them. It's a path still untraveled for the teen.

"We've had a lot of good athletes, been fortunate. But I've never had one this mature who handles his business like this. He loves the game, loves playing, practicing. He doesn't mind working hard. The biggest thing for him is how he handles the next four years," Laprad said.

Without ever stepping out onto the field, he's already pulled in an offer from Steve Spurrier.

"I had just turned 14. The first thing I did was thank God, without Him I can't do anything, then I thanked my Mom and my sister," said Joyner.

Spurrier saw what Laprad saw in Joyner.

"You get kids, we coaches call it the 'it factor.' Some just have it. I don't know where it comes from. He's got about six helpings of it," Laprad said.

But the thing that pushes a boy to play like a man, a forced maturity, is the loss of his father five years ago.

The number 5 on his back is a reminder of what pushes his heart.

"It helps me, the stuff my dad did in high school. I want to do the same things. I want to accomplish his goals and beat his records," Joyner said.

"I can tell it's a motivating factor for him. His mother makes sure he does the right things. She's tough; it's good. Very educated, great job. She's a great role model. I see it out here," Laprad said. "He has that extra gear. If that's from his dad, wow. I think it tells you what kind of kid he is."

On the field, he stands out because of how he carries the football. Off the field, the attention is on how he carries himself.

"Every morning, he comes in and shakes every coach's hand. Every morning. He's usually the first one on the field. That's the difference. Everybody knows how good he is, but it's the way he handles it," Laprad said.

The young man with a plan is humbly handling his business with a smile, knowing he has a long way to go.

"I have four years to think about it. I have many ideas. I'm looking at USC, but I have four years to think about it," Joyner said.

But first, he still has to take the field for that first Friday night under the lights.