The first thing you notice about Florida State senior cornerback Lamarcus Joyner is that he is short. At 5-foot-8, there's no doubt he lacks ideal size.
But if you watch him play live or on tape, you notice other things about Joyner -- his quickness, his physical nature, his speed, his overall athleticism, his high football IQ.
All those traits were in view Saturday night when Florida State hammered Clemson 51-14, thanks to big games from Joyner, redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston, junior wide receiver Rashad Greene and junior offensive tackle Cameron Erving. While Winston received a ton of acclaim for his play, as he should have, Joyner might have been the best player on the field.
He forced two fumbles, one on the first play of the game from scrimmage and another that was returned for a touchdown when he sacked Clemson's Tajh Boyd. He had an interception that stopped a drive at FSU's 7 when the game still was in doubt (and on a play in which FSU had just 10 men on the field). He also had eight tackles, and on Wednesday he was named the Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week.
Joyner, a 190-pounder, is second on the team with 33 tackles, and leads the team with three sacks and three forced fumbles.
"He's short; he's not little," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher told The Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat. "There's a difference."
Joyner arrived at FSU before the 2010 season as one of the nation's top 20 prep prospects and has played in every game since setting foot on campus. He was a backup cornerback as a true freshman and was the Seminoles' starting strong safety in each of the past two seasons, flashing both his speed and his physical nature. He's back at corner this fall, and over the summer, he admitted he was happy to return to corner because it improved his NFL draft stock. He reiterated that point on Tuesday to the Democrat, saying the aggressive scheme implemented by new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt appealed to him. Pruitt had been secondary coach at Alabama.
"I trusted that [the new defense] would help me show the skills I wanted to show," Joyner told the Democrat. "I'm at nickel, I'm at corner. I get to blitz. I get to play man to man. I get to do all of those things."
That versatility will be a huge selling point to NFL teams, who will be able to use Joyner all over the secondary. While he has played corner and strong safety, he also has the range, coverage skills and physical nature to be a free safety. He also has the necessary skills to be a nickel and dime corner and cover slot receivers.