One of the top players in the Central Florida — or even the state, for that matter — isn’t really on anyone’s recruiting radar. At least yet anyway.
He isn’t even the best player on his own team. Well, strike that, because actually, maybe he is.
And if it’s not the label of “best player” that gets stuck on Oviedo’s versatile David Joyce, then certainly he is deserving of “Most Valuable Player.” That’s what he has been this year for head coach Wes Allen’s 9-1 Lions.
Oviedo has its contingent of college prospects like seniors CB A.J. Coney, LB Tyler Foto, TE Brian Griggs and juniors RB Jurell Green and ATH Chris Davis, who is the Lions’ quarterback.
But the top player overall has to be Joyce, the team’s utility athlete whose main position is slot receiver.
“Let me tell you what kind of player David is for our football team,” Allen said Monday as he was gathering information for the All-Seminole Athletic Conference team. Then he began reading off statistics:
• 21 receptions for 404 yards and 4 touchdowns.
• 27 rushes for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns.
• 6-of-10 passing for 117 yards and a touchdown.
“So yeah, 750 total yards and eight touchdowns, that’s not too bad,” Allen said. “Having him out there with the threat that he is of running, catching or passing the football just opens up our offense. If you take away Jurell or Chris running, you’ve still got to deal with David on the outside."
And when he gets outside, he’ll burn you the first time. It may not be so surprising the second time, but when he first bursts past an opposing defensive back, the initial shock leaves those defensive backs flailing in the air at his deceptive speed.
“He’s the fastest guy on our football team. Now, they’re all neck-and-neck, and if they race it will be a bang-bang finish,” Allen said of Joyce, Davis and Green. “But the last time they all three lined up it was by a step, and David got them.”
Joyce, 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, has been getting preliminary recruiting attention from Stetson, which will start it's first official season of football next year since discontinuing the program in 1956.
He expects more attention, perhaps, after the season has concluded and Stetson does have him a bit intrigued. He grew up in a very close-knit family and would love to stay close to home. It's an athletic family, as well. Sister Kayla is a freshman on the Florida State sand volleyball team, and the best athlete of them all might just be young toddler Brock.
Joyce won't worry about any of the recruiting stuff right now, though. He has the playoffs approaching, and his versatility will be critical if the Lions are to make a deep run.
Secretly, Joyce probably yearns to be the quarterback. The star of the team. Big man on campus. But he gets all of that doing what he does while also carrying a terrific, unselfish attitude.
“He’s definitely a team player,” Allen said. “He’s our captain and he’s all about the team … does anything we need him to.
“He could be our quarterback. He did it against East River. He could play quarterback at just about any school we see. He could be a running back at a lot of schools we play, too.”
Allen decided to go with Davis as his quarterback last year when Davis was a sophomore because it would allow the team to gain valuable consistency and familiarity for three straight years. Joyce was briefly moved to defense, but Allen pulled him over to the offensive side and that’s where he’s remained.
That’s just fine with Joyce.
“It’s been unbelievable. It’s awesome because they depend on me for a lot of things and I love doing everything that I do,” Joyce said. “I’m not tied to one position and I love it.”
Of course, growing up he admired the quarterback position. Don’t we all?
He still figures he’s the man for the job, even at Oviedo, but his unselfishness won’t let that get in the way.
“I always wanted to play QB but I’ve always been an athlete, all the way back in Pop Warner, playing running back or defense,” he said. “My whole life, I’ve never been geared or tied down to one position.”
He’s proven he can play quarterback, and even garnered QB MVP honors at a Schumann’s National Underclassmen Combine during the summer before his junior season.
The East River game was his big chance as he stood in for an injured Davis. He guided the Lions to a 43-22 victory, throwing for 96 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 160 yards and two more touchdowns.
“I loved it. Just having control of the whole offense was awesome … my best game, I think,” Joyce said.
It’s a subject he has actually discussed with Davis.
“[Davis] wants to go to college as a receiver and all my life I grew up thinking I would be a QB, but I’m not complaining,” Joyce said of the situation. “He’s happy. I’m happy.”
And Oviedo is happy and looking to make some noise in the state playoffs. The Lions open with a home game against Leesburg on Friday.
Joyce broke his hand three weeks ago, but he’ll be on the field Friday. He’ll run past coach Allen if he tries to stop him.
“I sure wouldn’t be able to catch him,” Allen said.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.