Dieugot Joseph will run Wednesday as if his career depends on it.
Because it probably does.
The faster Joseph runs, the more eyes he opens.
The more eyes he opens, the better the chance an NFL team takes a shot on him.
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And that’s all the athletic offensive lineman from Florida International wants. A chance. A shot. A place on an NFL roster heading into training camp, preferably with a team which will give him a fair shake.
But he won’t get that chance if he doesn’t fly around FIU’s stadium like a superhero hero during his school’s pro day.
On the agenda: the 40-yard dash, where one-tenth of a second can mean the difference between a ticket to the NFL or a ticket home to Orlando.
Lucky for Joseph, he believes he’s got superhero speed, at least for a man his size.
“I’m expecting one of the best times that’s been run by an offensive tackle this year,” Joseph said.
What’s that mean? A 4.9? 4.8?
“I can tell you it’s going to be a good time that’s going to surprise a lot of people,” he replied.
Five seconds flat is moving for an offensive lineman. Only three ran faster than that at this year’s Scouting Combine. Aviante Collins from TCU was clocked at 4.81 seconds, best at the position. The fastest 40 by a lineman in recent memory is 4.71 seconds, run by Terron Armstead in 2013.
Anything in that general vicinity would get Joseph noticed.
And when you’re the 39th-rated offensive tackle in this year’s class — that’s what NFLDraftScout.com rates Joseph as — you need to get noticed.
The fifth-year senior, who was honorable mention all-conference at FIU in 2016, participated in the East-West Shrine Game, but didn’t do enough to earn an invitation to the Combine.
“Joseph has great length and a strong lower body,” draft expert Tony Pauline wrote after watching Joseph in practice. “He’s often caught reaching for defenders coming off the edge, displaying a lack of quickness. A big weakness in his style of play is his hand technique. He often found himself being shed by defenders or getting called for holding.”
Pauline walked away needing to see more out of Joseph. Scouts surely felt the same way.
He has one last chance to show them more before the draft: Wednesday in West Dade.
“It’s everything,” Joseph said. “[Wednesday] is the start of a new journey in my life. I can’t wait to show everybody how hard I’ve worked, not just these last couple of months, but for years.”
He continued: “I dedicated my life to football. This is what I do. This is my life. I want to show it to all.”
Joseph’s story is familiar.
He’s one of five kids. His mom, Verilia Similieh, came to America from Haiti as a young woman. She raised her children on her own, working as a housekeeper. Despite the family’s modest budget, four of the five kids attended college.
Joseph was late to football. He didn’t pick up the game until he was 15. Still, he earned a scholarship to FIU — as a two-star defensive end. After a redshirt year, he moved to offensive tackle. He took to it quickly, earning a starting spot at left tackle as a sophomore.
In the months since his senior season ended, Joseph has worked out twice a day, six days a week, to be able to run his fastest, jump the highest, bench press the most when the NFL comes calling.
Commencement at FIU might not be until late April, but Wednesday is Joseph’s graduation day. He will either nail his job interview and realize a lifelong dream, or have to consider a Plan B.
“I’ve got a lot riding on next week, but everyone does,” Joseph said. “I’m not stressing. All I can guarantee is that no one will be disappointed at the pro day.”