Sometimes, what you see is based on what you need. And, sometimes, redefinition unveils true definition.
Take the case of FIU redshirt junior Dieugot Joseph.
Joseph arrived at FIU from Orlando Freedom High in 2012 as a two-star defensive end recruit. But like a starving cartoon character seeing another character as a giant steak, a new FIU coaching staff light on linemen in 2013 looked at the 6-6 Joseph’s long arms and legs and saw an offensive tackle.
Two years after making the move, Joseph’s entrenched not just as a tackle, but at the all-important left-tackle position.
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“From a guy who was a defensive end, who was kind of a run-around, go-crazy guy,” FIU offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler said, “he’s learned to think. He’s learned to play calmly. He has a long way to go still. He is, trust me, miles from where he started.
“He is a good Conference USA tackle. I want to get him in the next two years to be a very good or great offensive tackle for Conference USA.”
Joseph concurs and said: “I feel way more comfortable now. It’s just natural. You know what to do. You know the movements. You know where to go on certain plays, how to turn your body.
“ It’s turning out to be a better thing for me. It’s a blessing I went to offensive tackle. I feel like the transition was really smooth when I wanted to work at it.”
That last phrase indicates Joseph’s original feelings about the switch, which you wouldn’t guess from the way he speaks about tackle with the enthusiasm of a vegan convert.
“I wouldn’t say resistant, but I wasn’t all for it,” Joseph admits.
Said FIU coach Ron Turner: “Like most defensive linemen, he did not want to go to offense. They see themselves as defensive ends. They watch the NFL, see all the money those guys are making, all the sacks they’re getting. I kept talking to him. I said, ‘Try it, give it a shot.’
“I told him I’d been around some guys who were very similar to him who would not have made the NFL on defense and wound up having nice careers in the NFL switching over. If you’re not quite athletic enough to play defense, you’re a really good athlete for the offensive line. He’s got the size, frame, body type, intelligence. He’s got everything you look for.”
Besides, as Turner recalls, FIU had eight scholarship offensive linemen at the time and only seven healthy ones.
“Being a quarterback’s protector, it’s just the whole style is different,” Joseph said. “You learn a whole lot of things, terminology that you didn’t have to worry about on the D-line. It was more aggressive play. There’s more sitting back and thinking on the offensive line.”
After taking the position from David Delsoin, Joseph started 10 games in 2014 and is the one offensive line starter returning in the same position.
“I thought last year, he was going to be a solid backup,” Shankweiler said. “Then, after two or three games, he beat out our starter. He just flat beat him out.
“A first-year guy, which in essence he was last year, the battle is always consistency. Can you maintain those fundamentals for 80 plays? During those 80 plays, there might be 20, ‘what the heck are we doing here? We’ve got to get you back and grounded again,” he continued. “This year, I’m thinking it’s 15 to 10 or five. This year, I’ve got a lot of confidence in him. He’s got, like any kid, some deficiencies he has to work on.
“But I don’t spend time dissecting him like I had to a year ago. He knows what he’s doing now. He’s just got to keep doing it better.”