April 29, 2006
Columbia, S.C. - Former South Carolina defensive back Johnathan Joseph was selected by the Cincinnati with the 24th pick of the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft on April 29. In doing so, Joseph became the third Gamecock taken in the first round of the NFL Draft in the last three years, joining cornerback Dunta Robinson (10th overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft, selected by the Houston Texans) and wide receiver Troy Williamson (seventh overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft, selected by the Minnesota Vikings.) In addition, Joseph becomes the 17th Gamecock drafted since 2000.
With at least one player chosen among the first 25 picks of each of the last three NFL Drafts, South Carolina joins Oklahoma, Texas and Southern California as the only four schools who can make this claim.
The Rock Hill, S.C., native started 10 games for Carolina during his junior year of 2005, earning second-team all-SEC honors after tying for the conference lead with four interceptions and breaking up nine passes. His 1.08 passes defended per game ranked third in the SEC. Joseph registered 55 tackles his junior year, 40 of which were solo stops. He made 3.5 tackles for loss totaling nine yards. Perhaps his most memorable play of the season came when he picked off a D.J. Shockley pass and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown against Georgia in Athens. He also intercepted passes thrown by Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler, Tennessee's Rick Clausen and Clemson's Charlie Whitehurst. Joseph was also utilized on special teams, returning six kicks for 141 yards (23.5 yards per return).
"This is a dream come true for me," Joseph said. "I've always wanted to play in the NFL and now I have that opportunity. I have worked hard and I had a great opportunity at South Carolina to learn from some of the DBs who came before me then went on to the NFL and this is all very exciting."
Joseph's first year at Carolina was cut short after he broke his foot in the second game of the 2004 season. Joseph started each of the first two games in which he played, making three tackles, breaking up a pass and forcing a fumble against Vanderbilt in the season opener.
"Getting injured during my first year at Carolina ended up being one of the best things that could happen to me because it forced me to watch the game from the sidelines and learn things as an observer," Joseph said. "When I got healthy, I was able to apply what I learned and became a better football player as a result."
"We're obviously very excited to have selected Johnathan Joseph from South Carolina," Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis said. "He is guy who has tremendous athleticism, and he had an outstanding year this past season. He transferred to South Carolina from a junior college, and to go in there and do what he did with a short turnaround is great. He's a guy who has the height, the speed and the athleticism to make the cuts in and out of the breaks that you look for in a tall corner. It gives us a guy to come in here and compete with the players we already have."
Though his body of work at South Carolina was limited due to the fact that he started his career at the junior college level then sustained his injury, Joseph impressed coaches and scouts at the NFL Combine, where he was clocked at a blazing 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash and posted a 37-inch vertical leap.
"I'm kind of relieved right now. I know I'm going to a good team and I can't really believe it, " said Joseph, who turned 22 two weeks ago. "I'm going to do everything I can to get into the rotation and try to make an impact. They drafted me high to come in and contribute. Special teams. Whatever they want me to do, I'll do."
Joseph came to South Carolina from Coffeyville (Kan.) Junior College, where he was an all-conference pick in 2003 after picking off three passes for 62 yards and a touchdown. Joseph registered 43 tackles and notched a sack to go with two pass break ups at Coffeyville in 2003.
Joseph attended Northwestern HS in Rock Hill, S.C., where he registered 127 tackles as a senior, picked off seven passes and scored four touchdowns. He played in the 2001 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.
What The Experts Say About Joseph:
South Carolina Gamecocks Selected in the First Round of the NFL Draft: Year Player Pos. Team Rd. Overall 2006 Johnathan Joseph CB Bengals 1 24 2005 Troy Williamson WR Vikings 1 7 2004 Dunta Robinson DB Texans 1 10 2000 John Abraham LB Jets 1 13 1993 Ernest Dye OT Cardinals 1 18 1988 Sterling Sharpe WR Packers 1 7 1981 George Rogers RB Saints 1 1 1981 Willie Scott TE Chiefs 1 14 1979 Rick Sanford DB Patriots 1 25
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