The Texas Longhorns remain in pursuit of an instant-impact safety from the NCAA transfer portal with Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks transfer Darius Joiner the latest to receive interest from head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff.
Update: Since entering the portal, Western Illinois All-American transfer DB Darius Joiner has picked up serious interest from Kansas, Kansas State, Virginia Tech, UCLA, Texas @JayhawkSlant @DYoungRivals @Hokie_Haven @OBWire @RickKimbrel @rivalsmike https://t.co/FBN4aKuYno— NCAA Transfer Portal (@RivalsPortal) February 10, 2022
A 6’2, 202-pounder from a farm in Roanoke, Ala., Joiner was a two-sport standout in high school who originally intended to play college basketball after averaging 18 points per game and 4.3 assists per game as a lead guard who flashed some short-area quickness and explosiveness on the hardwood.
Instead of playing basketball, Joiner landed at Jacksonville State, redshirting in 2017 before moving to safety and starting one game in 2018, making 27 tackles and recording an interception. As a redshirt sophomore, Joined made 16 tackles with three tackles for loss before breaking out at Western Illinois as a transfer.
In Macomb, Joiner was an FCS All-American and a Buck Buchanan Award finalist, the award given to the top FCS player in the country. Joiner led the FCS in total tackles (142) and solo tackles (79), including a 23-tackle game against Youngstown State. He added seven tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, along with an interception.
A long, rangy athlete, Joiner is a physical presence as a deep safety who can defend against the pass, come downhill to deliver blows in run support, or even blitz, whether from near the line of scrimmage or a deep alignment. With five pass breakups in 2021, Joiner is also capable of making plays in coverage. As a box safety, he’s physical and instinctive enough to make plays, so he possesses the versatility to line up across the field.
Real Ball Hawk ⚠️— Darius Joiner (@Darius_joiner24) May 8, 2021
Game film in bio‼️ pic.twitter.com/2Q5l75XmpB
At Jacksonville State, Joiner flashed ball skills that haven’t always translated into interceptions on the field. In an interview at Western Illinois, he suggested that quarterbacks tended to avoid throwing in his direction after an interception early in his career.
Joiner is a super senior with one year of eligibility remaining who could fill one of the biggest needs on the Texas roster — an experienced safety capable of coming in and winning a starting job.