COLLEGE PARK — As a freshman in 2012, West Virginia safety Karl Joseph came charging up from the defensive backfield and hit a Texas ball-carrier so hard that there is now a YouTube video dedicated to it.
Joseph is one of West Virginia’s top defensive players; a physical, aggressive 5-foot-10, 196-pound presence in the back end of the Mountaineers’ defense whom Maryland is well aware of heading into Saturday’s game against West Virginia.
“He’s a guy that runs around for them really well,” Terps offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said. “They play the 3-3-5, and he’s one of the hybrid DB/safety guys that has the ability to play in the back end as a deep safety, and they also bring him down.
“I know they utilize him to rush the passer at times. Very versatile athlete, and I think he’s kind of the guy that makes that defense go because he has the ability to fill a lot of different roles.”
Joseph was named West Virginia’s Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman after finishing with a team-high 104 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and two interceptions.
He was then a Big 12 honorable mention all-conference selection last year, and he has 20 tackles through two games this season. That’s six more than anyone else on the Mountaineers’ defense.
Joseph had seven tackles, including 1.5 tackles for a loss and a sack against Maryland in 2012, and he led West Virginia with nine tackles vs. the Terps last season.
“He’s athletic enough to play man on the inside receiver and tough enough and physical enough to play close to the box,” Locksley said. “We definitely need to make sure that we account for him in both the run and the pass game.”
West Virginia has some other good defensive players as well. But Joseph and fellow junior safety K.J. Dillon were the two primary players Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown talked about when asked which Mountaineers players have stuck out to him on film.
Dillon had 28 tackles in nine games (four starts) last year and has seven tackles this season, including 1.5 for a loss.
“8 [Joseph] and 9 [Dillon] are the guys constantly moving around,” Brown said. “They stick their head in there and try to get the ball out and make some big-time hits."